Wednesday, May 31, 2006
I'll just note that the paths of Zinsmeister and Kauffman couldn't have diverged more and we are fortunate that the latter took the road less traveled.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The official word is that Vargas is leaving the demanding job for another: mother of a 3-year-old and a child due this summer. "For now, for this year, I need to be a good mother," she said on Friday. After the second child arrives, she'll return to coanchor "20/20." Charles Gibson has replaced her on "World News Tonight."
But three leading women's groups aren't so sure that that's the whole story. NOW has joined with the Feminist Majority Foundation and the National Council of Women's Organizations to protest Vargas' departure. In a letter sent Monday to ABC, they characterize Vargas' move to "20/20" as a "clear demotion" and "a dispiriting return to the days of discrimination against women that we thought were behind us.". . . NOW president Kim Gandy finds the whole thing fishy: "It seems unlikely to me, having survived and thrived through her first pregnancy, that she would logically give up the top job in TV a few months out, anticipating she couldn't handle it."
. . .
Vargas, for her part, suggests that because her situation is unique, it should not necessarily be taken as bad news for all women. Not only is she the first person to get pregnant while working as lead anchor, but -- remember -- her former coanchor, Bob Woodruff, was critically injured in Iraq. . . The "20/20" job is more predictable and less demanding, she said.
NOW still isn't buying it. "If she can't have it all," said Gandy, "who among us could?"
What kind of horrible woman decides to stay at home with her kids for a couple of years and what kind of sick society allows it over feminist objections?
Monday, May 29, 2006
I suppose there's not as much real estate on a paperback, but let indulge in some conspiracies. Do you think the Birkenstock company sued? Probably not -- maybe there was just a little something on there to offend more people in the paperback-buying market demographic. I haven't seen too many Birks at the pistol range.
Or maybe Rod was asked (or bribed) by the evil Republicans to remove the reference to saving their party? This is actually the most interesting aspect of the subtitle to me -- I had been pointing to that little parenthesized remark as kind of an obstacle to the claim that CCism isn't really about politics but the, you know, transcendental free-range sensibilities of the greater good or whatever.
So I'll be the first one to praise this change as a recognition and application on Rod's part of a "regular conservative" sensibility called unity. With a lot of the pundits buzzing with the uncertainties of continued Republican majorities, and therefore conservative influence in general, I imagine the market for the quaint and eccentric topics in Crunchy Cons may be soon questioned by conservative book-buyers and the publishing industry. A liberal takeover might be devastating for an author like Rod whose success in large part depends on conservatives not having anything better to do.
And devastating for the rest of America.
How about this -- the original subtitle was simply way too long?
Friday, May 26, 2006
The traditionalists had a monopoly on wit. Fletcher Thompson (R-Ga.) offered an amendment to rename our holidays "Uniform Holiday No. 1, Uniform Holiday No. 2," etc. The immortal skinflint H.R. Gross (R-Ia.), who had opposed spending government money to keep the eternal flame over jfk's grave, proposed to move Christmas and New Year's Day to Monday. The Mondaynes were not amused.
The Uniform Holiday Act of 1968 passed the House, 212-83, and the Senate by voice vote, without debate. "This is the greatest thing that has happened to the travel industry since the invention of the automobile," rejoiced the president of the National Association of Travel Organizations.
Rep. Dan Kuykendall (R-Tenn.) saw it differently: "If we do this, 10 years from now our schoolchildren will not know what February 22 means. They will not know or care when George Washington was born. They will know that in the middle of February they will have a three-day weekend for some reason. This will come."
This has come.
Former Confederate states also established Memorial days on several dates ranging from Robert E. Lee's birthday on Jan. 19 to Jefferson Davis' birthday of June 3. Myrta Lockett Avary wrote of the first Memorial Day in Richmond, Virginia in her Reconstruction chronicle,Dixie After the War:
The young men of Richmond, the flower of the city, marched to Hollywood [cemetery], armed with picks and spades and numbering in their long line, . . . remnants of famous companies, whose gallantry hand made them shining marks on many a desperate battlefield . . .
Thousands visited the green hillside where General Jeb Stuart lay, a simple wooden board marking the spot; his grave was a mound of flowers. . . No Hero, great or lowly, was forgotten, What a tale of broken hearts and desolate homes far away the many graves told! Here had the Texas Ranger ended his march; here had brave lads from the Land of Flowers and all the states intervening bivouacked for a long, long night, from whose slumbers no bugle might wake them.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Most troubling is the lack of accountability for past performance. Take Bayan Jabr, who presided for the past year over an Interior Ministry infiltrated by "death squads" that undermined Iraqi trust in the police. Mr. Jabr is at least out of that job, but he's nonetheless gotten the plum and important Finance Ministry instead.
Don't these guys know how democracy works? Iraq had its "accountability moment" and they have put their decider in place. Past performance no longer matters.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
It seems to happen every week: Some new piece of good economic news comes out, and Republicans sink a little deeper in the polls. In late April, it was estimated that the economy had grown by 4.8 percent during the first quarter of the year. A few days later, new jobs numbers came out. It turns out that 5.3 million jobs have been created since August 2003. The unemployment rate is 4.7 percent — well below the average of each of the last three decades. The stock market continued to rise, and looked likely to hit a record soon.
The public responded to all this good news by turning a little more against President Bush. In a mid-April poll by Gallup and USA Today, 36 percent of the public approved of the president’s performance in office and 59 percent disapproved. In an early-May poll, approval had fallen to 31 percent and disapproval had risen to 65 percent. Bush’s 23-point deficit had widened to 34 points.
Perhaps it is because economic growth isn't enough. Walk or drive around your town. How many check cashing stores, signs saying "we buy houses" with a phone number and rent-to-own places do you see? I see too many in Knoxville to believe that the economy is truly healthy. Maybe that's why people don't approve of the President's handling of the economy. Or perhaps people have noticed how incompetent that the Bush administration is in almost every area, and are convinced that they can't do anything right.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Vote check at the backyard gate and turn away anyone who voted for Al or John, any Kennedy or any woman who ever wore even a single piece of “organic” clothing.
Extra points for guests that arrive one or two to a large, flashy vehicle, families with three or more children, snack items brought from Wal-Mart, and t-shirts reading “Iraqi Freedom Campaign”.
. . . The story which I never had quite the energy or desire to correct was that in the grand mythic Lamar tradition I had confronted the Kleagle in his den, “called him out” with some such Southern Western shoot-out ultimatum as “Now listen here, you son of a bitch, I don’t know which one of you is bothering Ellis but I’m holding you responsible and if one hair of a Buell head is harmed, I’m going to shoot your ass off for you,” and so forth and so forth. I put a stop to it all right, but in a manner more suited to Southern complexities and realities than the simple dreams of the sixties, when there were only good people and bad people. I went to see the Grand Kleagle all right, who was none other than J.B. Jenkins, a big dumb boy who played offensive tackle with me in both high school and college . . .
Monday, May 22, 2006
Conservatives have forgotten just how precarious our position is. One cable news channel, talk radio, and the blogosphere do not an invincible army make. It only seems that way because we also have nominal control of the reigns of power. But lose our foothold in government, and conservatives are up a creek. The other side controls the levers of cultural power in this country, and we are the enemy in their eyes (and on their screens).Conservatives need to face the fact that our position in this culture is genuinely precarious. If we lose our hold on power, we’ll scream bloody murder on our outlets at everything the other side does. Yet those screams may only confirm our helplessness.
Yeah, the next step is concentration camps. In case you didn't get it, Kurtz thinks that his movement's position is precarious, and is threatened by Hollywood. I haven't seen the movie, but I have read both The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons and see them for what they are -- page-turning suspense novels that go a little tough on the Catholic Church, which being one of the most enduring institutions in the history of the world, will survive its encounter with Dan Brown. They are not attacks on the political right.
Note that Kurtz also says that Democrats are "angry" in part, because of "the return of patriotism." When did patriotism go away? Was there an epidemic of flag burning and people renouncing their citizenship that I slept through? Or does Kurtz believe that patriotism goes away whenever a Democrat is in the Whitehouse?
Sunday, May 21, 2006
In fact, getting out now may be our only chance to set things right in Iraq. For starters, if we withdraw, European politicians would be more likely to cooperate with us in a strategy for stabilizing the greater Middle East. Following a withdrawal, all the countries bordering Iraq would likely respond favorably to an offer to help stabilize the situation. The most important of these would be Iran. It dislikes al Qaeda as much as we do. It wants regional stability as much as we do. It wants to produce more oil and gas and sell it. If its leaders really want nuclear weapons, we cannot stop them. But we can engage them.
None of these prospects is possible unless we stop moving deeper into the “big sandy” of Iraq. America must withdraw now.
If course, if you still have faith in Bush and Rumsfeld . . .
Friday, May 19, 2006
So glad our troops, including my cousin, helped liberate Iraq. So what do we get in return? Islamic law, a Shi'ite government that is inching toward Iran-style fundamentalism, and NOW, that country supports the Arab Boycott of Israel.
Imagine a country where about 60% of the population practices Shi'ite Islam organizing a government on those principles and not the Declaration of Independence!
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Rod Dreher's book labors under a few handicaps. First, there is the cloying title and absurdly long subtitle. In addition, the cover features a cutesy picture of a VW microbus with a GOP elephant painted above the grille. The back cover features a "Crunchy Con Manifesto" that is a bit simplistic. "We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly." However, the old adage about not judging a book by its cover applies here because Crunchy Cons does merit serious attention.
The conservative movement, as currently constituted can accomplish little more than elect Republicans, demonize Democrats and liberals and turn execrable books by talk radio hosts and syndicated columnists into best sellers. Since politics has devolved into a team sport many conservative rank-and-file are happy just to be "winning." In Crunchy Cons, Rod Dreher looks at the deeper issue of whether conservatives are accomplishing anything of value.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
People in the suburbs buy SUVs instead of minivans not because they need the four-wheel-drive capabilities, but because the SUVs lack the minivan's close association with low-prestige activities like parenting, and instead provide the aura of high-prestige activities like whitewater kayaking. Why should kayaking be more prestigious than parenting? Because parenting isn't prestigious in our society. If it were, childless people would drive minivans just to partake of the aura.
I had foolishly assumed that people are having fewer (or no) children for a variety of reasons, the main ones being:
1 The increasing availability of various forms of birth control.
2 The large number of people who finish their education deep in debt.
3 The extention of adolescence in a prosperous society where lots of people go to college and grad school.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Update: I guess that I should give you the quote they used on TV:
The president is pandering to his base with this Guard thing, and it won't work (either as pandering or immigration control). Fortunately, I don't have to watch.
I don't know if I will be proved correct since I passed on the President's speech for a B movie starring Lee Tracy.
Wal-Mart's pricing monomania has rooted out wasteful practices like the packaging of bottles, jars, and canisters of product in cardboard boxes but has itself created another gigantic category of waste: the bargain TV or DVD player or lawn mower that, purchased without the benefit of a knowledgeable service person and manufactured with cheaper and cheaper materials, soon breaks down, is not worth repairing, and winds up dumped in the trash--the Pickle Caper writ large. Fishman notes, "In the Wal-Mart economy, we as consumers often buy too much just because it's cheap."
Saturday, May 13, 2006
RR themes appear in later Kinks songs such as "Living on a Thin Line," (written by Dave Davies) from Word of Mouth. That song begins with the line, "All the stories have been told Of kings and days of old, But there's no England now . . . "
The list also features the Skynyrd classic "Sweet Home Alabama" but neglected "Things Goin' On" from their first album, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd, which forcefully states:
Too many lives they've spent across the ocean.
Too much money been spent upon the moon.
Well, until they make it right
I hope they never sleep at night
They better make some changes
And do it soon.
Also, shockingly missing is Dwight Yoakam's "I Sang Dixie,"(from Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room) aptly described by Kauffman in Chronicles a few years back as a "deracine anthem":
He said listen to me son while you still can
Run back home to that Southern land
Don't you see what life here has done to me?
Then he closed those old blue eyes
And fell limp against my side
No more pain, now he's safe back home in Dixie
Friday, May 12, 2006
Alas, this blog will exist in the shadow of the blog discussing the Birthright Pundit's new book Can She Be Stopped? : Hillary Clinton Will Be the Next President of the United States Unless . . .
Rally To Censor The Iraq War
TIRED OF TV NETWORKS LIKE NBC,CBS ABC and CNN REPORTING UNFAIR, DISTORTED AND NEGATIVE NEWS? THE NETWORKS SAY OUR COUNTRY IS LOOSING IN IRAQ, AND THAT WE ARE TORTURING AND MISTREATING "THOSE POOR OLD TERRORISTS", WHO BY THE WAY WOULD LOVE TO KILL US AMERICANS AND OUR FAMILIES. IF YOU ARE FED UP WITH THIS LUNACY AND FOLLY,
JOIN US AT:BROADWAY-KMART SHOPPING CNTRPATRIOTIC MUSIC AND SPEECHES OVER OUR P.A. SYSTEM. WE PLAN TO HAVE EVERY ONE SIGN A PETITION THAT WILL BE SENT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH REGARDING CENSORSHIP ON THE WAR IN IRAQ. THE LIBERAL NEWS MEDIA, CERTAIN SENATORS AND GENERALS ARE DETERMINED TO UNDERMINE, BELITTLE AND DESTROY OUR WAR EFFORTS IN IRAQ, AS THEY DID IN THE VIETNAM WAR. SPEAKERS AT THE RALLY WILL EXPLAIN HOW IF WE LOSE IN IRAQ, WE WILL LOSE THE ENTIRE MIDDLE EAST AND 80% OF THE WORLD'S OIL!! YOU WILL SEE GAS PRICES SOAR TO $18 TO 20$ PER GALLON. THIS COULD HAPPEN WITHIN 1 YEAR TO 18 MONTHS AFTER AMERICAN TROOPS WITHDRAW. IF YOU LOVE YOUR COUNTRY AND WANT TO CONFRONT THE LIBERAL HATE AMERICA GROUPS, THE ACLU, THE NEWS MEDIA, HOLLYWOOD, SOME LUNATIC CONGRESSMEN AND SENATORS . . . THEN THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY!!
SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2006
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
After discussing the huge strides the agency has made in doing business with minority-owned companies, Jackson closed with a cautionary tale, relaying a conversation he had with a prospective advertising contractor.
"He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years," Jackson said of the prospective contractor. "He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something ... he said, 'I have a problem with your president.'
"I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I don't like President Bush.' I thought to myself, 'Brother, you have a disconnect -- the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn't be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don't tell the secretary.'
"He didn't get the contract," Jackson continued. "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."
Government contracts are now subject to a political litmus test(as is participation in scientific advisory panels, as Chris Mooney notes in The Republican War on Science). Rod Dreher notes that this is yet another example of the "rank cronyism" of the Bush administration.
HH: Is the American media doing a good job of covering the war in all of its facets?
DR: Oh, goodness gracious. You know, I'm not a judge and a jury. That's up for the American people to decide, and you know where they rank the media.
Hewitt didn't go into any possible problems with the way that Rummy has fought the war, or bring up the generals. Charlie McCarthy would have asked tougher questions of Edgar Bergen.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Monday, May 08, 2006
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Friday, May 05, 2006
Perversely, perhaps, I want to make a serious comment. Which begins with a quote from a dentist who lived in my home town in South Dakota: "Voting for Democrats is like picking your nose. You like to do it, but you're not proud of it."
Crude, but apt. Why on earth is a lost, pathetic nonentity like Patrick Kennedy a member of Congress? . . . Can the people of Rhode Island possibly be proud of being represented by a slow-witted, uninformed young man with admitted psychiatric and drug problems? I assume not.
. . .
Obviously, Kennedy is a Congressman because of his last name . . .
Actually, the dentist quote is stupidly inapt. What the heck does it mean? But the more important issue concerns a loyal Bushie criticizing Rhode Island voters for supporting a dullard with a famous name. Yeah, I can't imagine why people would vote for Patrick Kennedy, but he hasn't got nearly as much mileage from his name and family connections as George W. Bush. Read Kevin Phillips on the subject. Bush is a man who can only fall up, and he kept falling til he made the Whitehouse.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
It builds up to Corker desire to go to the Senate to get spending under control. Now I would like to get spending under control as well, but I am far more concerned about the war in Iraq, the looming war against Iran, immigration, etc. He does address these issues in a superfical manner:
We must complete our mission in Iraq, supporting the new emerging democratic government until Iraqi forces are prepared to defend their country.
Iran and North Korea pose exceptional dangers because of their possession of nuclear materials and our relations with these nations should be a top foreign policy priority. We must be firm in our insistence that Iran and North Korea renounce any nuclear weapons programs and we should stay focused on solving this problem in the near term.
Okay Sen. Corker, what if it takes another five or ten years to "complete our mission in Iraq"? Are you still game? Suppose Iran tells us to take our concerns about their nuclear program and stick them where the sun don't shine; do we bomb, invade, what? What do you have to offer other than platitudes?
And how can any Republican candidate talk about controlling spending with a straight face? If Republican control of the government for the last six years have led to exploding debt, I don't see Corker making much of a difference.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Of course, if we seized the Saudi and Iranian oil fields and ran the pumps full speed, oil prices would plummet, dictators would be broke, and poor nations would benefit from cheap energy. But we'd be called imperialist oppressors, then.
UPDATE: Various people (with various degrees of enthusiasm) see the above as a call for invasion. It was, rather, a comment on the vacuity of the "imperialist oppressors" language. Though I was probably wrong there anyway: If we really were imperialist oppressors, the critics would be sucking up.
Me (or anyone not insane): Well, yeah, invading a country to steal its resources does seem kind of "imperialist" and a little "oppressive." But if those terms are too leftwing, how about "Saddam like" or perhaps, "not unlike the actions of Imperial Japan circa 1941." What is really disturbing is Reynolds' mindset. He thinks that opposing aggression is a morally suspect position.
And note that Reynolds is deciding how his political opponents would respond to a theoretical position and then he labels it vacuous. Harsh words coming from someone whose greatest contribution to public debate is "heh."
Yippie activist Abbie Hoffman came to campus, and Dreher volunteered to escort him around town. A wigged-out Hoffman demanded to be driven to Jimmy Swaggart Bible College so he could yell obscenities out the car window and maybe pick a fight. There was an arrogance to it. It was a small moment in a Dreher's journey rightward, toward something that seemed more sensible, upstanding.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
They loaded these banned detectors onto unmanned aerial vehicles and dropped them on our cities and killed millions.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Think of all the material! I just got this from my old pal Thomas, a fellow Louisiana native:My father’s dachshund (Huey, named after Huey Long) was going to turn 16 in June. My folks had to put him down on Friday for a number of health reasons but there is such a nugget of humor in this that I had to share. Mother informed me that they buried Huey with a can of Miller Lite (his preferred beer) and positioned him facing East. Do you suspect other families have “flavor” such as this?
Well, my late Uncle Murphy once won a tombstone off an undertaker in a bourre' game. Guy couldn't pay him, so he gave Murphy a tombstone made to order. It had Murphy's name, date of birth, and the epitaph Murphy selected for himself. Murphy put it on his front doorstep, where it sat for over 20 years. When he finally expired, his kids had the date of death carved into the stone, and as he requested, put it at the head of his grave. The epitaph reads: "This ain't bad, once you get used to it."
The late Walker Percy begs to differ (from his self interview reprinted in Signposts in a Strange Land:
But what about those unique characteristics of the South? Don't they tend to make the South a more hospitable place for writers?
Well, I've heard about that, the storytelling tradition, sense of identity, tragic dimension, community, history, and so forth. But I was never quite sure what it meant. In fact, I'm not sure that the opposite is not the case. People don't read much in the South and don't take writers very seriously, which is probably as it should be. . .
I have a theory of why Faulkner became a great writer. It was not the presence of a tradition and all that, as one generally hears, but the absence. Everybody in Oxford, Mississippi, knew who faulkner was, not because he was a great writer, but because he was a local character, a little-bitty fellow who put on airs . . .
Presidential Stud, Continued [Kathryn Jean Lopez]More K-Lo:That looked to me like a pefect landing, to cap off a combat war won in under a month. If the likes of Fox News Channel and NR chose the pictures that would best characterize his presidency: bullhorn at Ground Zero, in a flight suit on the deck of the Lincoln, hanging with his men . . . This is one cool presidential moment. If this were a private corporation, whoever thought of it would be getting a nice raise.(emphasis addded)
This is different, guys. And it's not just because he is a Republican and I like him. It's different because he is a leader of a nation that is winning a historically significant war. He is using the props of commander in chief to show the nation and the world--the day after the State Department announced that terrorism is at its lowest point in decades in the U.S.--to demonstrate that we are winning this long war on terrorism, even if we still have miles to go, to show that we support these guys who fought and those who died for our freedom and for the freedom of Iraqis, Afghans, and hopefully in the future, others in that part of the world . . . Again, this is not some stunt photo op.John Hindraker: "Yeah, we've had better leaders. Their names were Washington and Lincoln. And maybe Roosevelt."
Glenn Reynolds was more skeptical, but caught a lot of flak. "The jet-pilot arrival, on the other hand, rang false."