Monday, July 31, 2006


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Although I am enough of a film buff to have inflicted my opinions on the unsuspecting masses, I rarely go to the movies these days. They are expensive and I get so many great films on DVD or via Turner Classic Movies, that going to a theater seems a waste.

However, I did go to see Woody Allen's latest film, Scoop, yesterday afternoon. I won't offer a review, in fact I can't. My mind doesn't work fast enough to take in all of the detail of a movie without a pause/rewind function, which is why I review books -- they wait around for you. But back to the movie -- it stars the insanely beautiful Scarlett Johansson as an American journalism student vacationing in London, who pairs up with an aging magician (Allen) to investigate a tip in a murder case from a dead reporter. It sounds kind of crazy, but it works out.

A recent Washington Post profile notes that "with the possible exception of Charlie Chaplin, nobody has ever directed, written and acted in as many standout movies as Woody Allen, and he did it without anyone else, except for an occasional co-writer, vetting his lines." He is in one sense a hard working director, but the same Post profile notes that Allen doesn't kill himself to make a picture:

Perfectionism is not his style. Asked why he doesn't try the Stanley Kubrick approach to filmmaking, which involved fine-tuning for years, Allen plaintively says he doesn't have it in him.

"Kubrick was a great artist. I say this all the time and people think I'm being facetious. I'm not. Kubrick was a guy who obsessed over details and did 100 takes, and you know, I don't feel that way. If I'm shooting a film and it's 6 o'clock at night and I've got a take, and I think I might be able to get a better take if I stayed, but the Knicks tipoff is at 7:30, then that's it. The crews love working on my movies because they know they'll be home by 6."

People (meaning me) would probably pay to see Scarlett Johansson, who was also in Allen's previous film, Match Point, fold laundry for 90 minutes. But part of her appeal comes from the quirky, offbeat movies that she appears in, such as Sophia Coppola's Lost in Translation. Cynics may suggest that this post was merely an excuse to post her picture and I have no satisfactory response to that charge.

David Horowitz:

The "left" is responsible for Israel's coming defeat because they are against Joe Lieberman, or something like that.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Kill 'Em All . . .

According to Victor Davis Hanson, there are no civilians in Lebanon. Apparently every man, woman and child is a legitimate target:
"Civilians" in Lebanon have munitions in their basements and deliberately wish to draw fire; in Israel they are in bunkers to avoid it. Israel uses precision weapons to avoid hitting them; Hezbollah sends random missiles into Israel to ensure they are struck.

He has a whole glossary of terms demonstrating how the media and critics are unfair to Israel. Oddly, all of the terms are in quotes but none are attributed to a source. Through the magic of the World Wide Web, Hanson could have provided links to sources demonstrating the accuracy of what he is saying -- like Justin Raimondo does -- but I suppose we are expected to take him at his word.

Is This Guy For Real?

Did Lil' Poddy really publish an entire column consisting of snide questions? Is this guy for real? Does anybody take John Podheretz seriously any more? Did anybody ever argue that "America was attacked because it cast too intimidating a shadow"? Is that actually an "oft-expressed concern"? Is the case for the various wars that Poddy supports so weak that they can't be made directly?

Again I ask, is this guy for real?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mortal Struggle

Rod Dreher linked to a Tony Blankley column yesterday on the nature of the war against "Islamists" that America is currently fighting:

President Bush has failed in five years to successfully make the case either to America or to the Western world that we are, in fact, in a mortal, worldwide struggle, what my old boss Newt Gingrich recently called World War III; what I called "The West's Last Chance" in my book last year; and what I and many others have called the clash of civilizations.

I am under no delusions about the nature of Islam. In the February 1999 issue of Chronicles, Srjda Trifkovic (author of The Sword of the Prophet and Defeating Jihad) wrote that to "understand Islam's record with its non-adherents, one should compare it not to Judaism nor Christianity, but rather match it against modern totalitarian ideologies, notably Bolshevism and National Socialism. Each explicitly denied the legitimacy of an form of social, political, or cultural organization other than itself." Note that he is not referring to "Islamism" or "Islamofascism" but Islam. However, Trifkovic shouldn't be confused with the World War Whatever crowd. Back in March he told Jamie Glasov of Frontpage that:

Bin Laden's network may have been damaged and disrupted since 2001 and his cause may in many places be in the hands of self-starters and amateurs, but he could never have dreamed that the world, almost five years after 9-11, would look so favorable to his objectives. A new strategy is needed to make it less so. It can never be "won" in the sense of eliminating the phenomenon of terrorism altogether, but it can be successfully pursued to the point where the Western world can be made significantly safer by adopting measures - predominantly defensive measures - that would reduce the danger to as near zero as possible. The victory will come not by conquering Mecca for America, but by disengaging America from Mecca (energy independence is a must!) and by excluding Mecca from America with a new immigration policy, soberly defined and rigorously enforced. The risk can, and must, be managed wisely, resolutely, and permanently. (emphasis added)

If Bush had sought the advice of Trifkovic on Sept. 12 2001, the country wouldn't be in the mess it is today.

Blankley is grossly understating when he says that Bush has "failed . . . to successfully make the case . . . to America . . . that we are, in fact, in a mortal, worldwide struggle." Bush not only failed, he did precisely the opposite. As Dreher wrote in his book, "9/11 galvanized New Yorkers, and indeed most Americans, and readied us to do something heroic and self-sacrificing, like, say, embarking on a serious and determined national campaign to save energy." Instead we got a cakewalk accompanied by tax cuts.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Some guy calling himself "Gaypatriot" says that Pat Buchanan is an "ex-conservative" for failing to support Israel's current war. But he is really upset about Buchanan running long at the 1992 Republican Convention:

I would say that Pat Buchanan represents the last of the conservative anti-Semites. Except that in 1992, Pat Buchanan made clear that he was no longer a Reagan conservative. As you may recall, in his celebrated speech to the Republican National Convention that summer, not only did he make angry statements, but he spoke far longer than the time allotted to him, thus, delaying the speech of the man who was to speak later that evening, a man whose ideas Buchanan once claimed to have championed -- Ronald Wilson Reagan.

What an outrage! But you know, GP has a point. Buchanan has been estranged from the right for some time now, even though he started a magazine called The American Conservative. Since "conservative" has come to be synonymous with Dick Cheney, Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt, it's no big loss to be dismissed from their ranks.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Walker Percy
Michael Brendan Dougherty offers his advice on picking a whiskey. But one should also consult the views of Walker Percy on his preference for 80-proof Bourbon (from the posthumus essay collection Signposts in a Strange Land):
Consider. One knocks back five one-ounce shots of 80-proof Early Times or four shots of 100-proof Old Fitzgerald. The alcohol ingestion is the same . . . Yet in the case of Early Times, one has obtained an extra quantum of joy without cost to liver, brain, or gastric mucosa. . . An apology to the reader is in order, nevertheless, for it has occurred to me that this is the most unedifying and even maleficent piece I ever wrote -- if it should encourage potential alcoholics to start knocking back Bourbon neat. It is also the unfairest. Because I am, happily and unhappily, endowed with a bad GI tract, diverticulosis, neurotic colon, and a mild recurring nausea, which make it less likely for me to become an alcoholic than my healthier fellow Americans. I can hear the reader now: Who is he kidding? If this joker has to knock back five shots of Bourbon every afternoon just to stand the twentieth century, he's already an alcoholic.

Self Delusion

This is what self-delusion looks like:
Having expended the lives of 2,500 soldiers already, will we not stick it out another year or two -- risking perhaps another 800-1,000 U.S. deaths -- in order to crush the terrorists, and to establish a stable government in Iraq?--Robert Stacy McCain

Is their any conceivable reason to hope that in another year or two we would be closer, rather than further away from "stable government in Iraq"? At least he's not Tom Friedman.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Crunchies and Reactionary Radicals Unite!

Jason Edwards, of Grove City College has a review up of Look Homeward America and Crunchy Cons:
Cold War politics indeed made strange bedfellows, and some conservatives are increasingly disturbed to discover with whom they have been sleeping. Regret over this conservative marriage of convenience has simmered for years, but in 2006 some “divorce” papers have been filed as two new books outline potentially irreconcilable differences. Rod Dreher’s Crunchy Cons and Bill Kauffman’s Look Homeward, America both seek to analyze what it means to be “conservative” in the 21st century. The primary disconnect both address is the conservative allegiance to the free market (and un-defined “progress”) in light of the fact that industrial capitalism has undermined family stability, healthy stewardship of the earth, limited government, and religious consciousness (all things that rank far higher with traditional conservatives than making a buck).

Tough Guys

National Review's "Sixers" blog, dedicated to the midterm elections has a series of increasingly hysterical posts from Greg Pollowitz about a debate in Virginia between James Webb and George Allen, Jr. If Pollowitz is an indication, Webb has rightwingers running scared. At times Pollowitz can't make up his mind -- Webb is either parroting Democratic talking points or revealing himself as too cozy with Republicans. Pollowitz frets on behalf of the far left because Webb indicates that he would support some Republican judges:
Webb’s stance on Alito, however, is what should be looked at by Democrats. He was very careful at the debate to say that he didn’t have enough information to know if he would or would not vote for Alito.He said he would have voted to filibuster, but not on the merits of Alito. He would have filibustered only because he felt Democrats on the judiciary committee were not given enough information. As we all know, that line of thought was total and utter nonsense. But, let’s say for the moment that Ted Kennedy was given more information on Alito and Princeton, etc. Would Alito have failed confirmation? Highly unlikely. Webb is dodging big time here.

I don't often give advice to Democrats, but as a general rule they should use caution when taking advice from a one of the other side's partisans. I can easily see why leftwingers would root for and support a cultural (but not social) conservative like James Webb. His campaign offers a decent chance to pick up a seat for their side in a conservative state and take out a potential Republican presidential candidate. Webb is to the right of Joe Lieberman, but on the big issue of the day Webb is closer to the left; and he hasn't carried water for the Bush administration.

Pollowitz's last post on the Webb/Allen debate is of an email from a peeved Northern Virginia reader:
I live in Northern Virginia and see Jim Webb yard signs everywhere, and I am struck but how disgustingly cynical they are. This is supposed to be the Dem's anti-war candidate, yet what do his yard signs say? "Born Fighting." That to me is a deeply cynical take on the electorate: that we want a tough guy and he needs to fashion himself as one even though his stated policy positions place him squarely among the cut-and-run crowd. It is appalling.

But in the People's Republic of Alexandria, VA, it doesn't matter who runs or on what issues: so long as a candidate is "agin" President Bush, that candidate will do well in our land of the knee-jerk Left.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Webb would have the slogan "Born Fighting" on his signs since he wrote a book a few years ago called Born Fighting. The emailer is wrong that Webb is "fashion[ing]" himself as a tough guy. Among the political/intellectual/talking head class, Webb is one of the few genuine tough guys. He's a heavily decorated Marine who boxed at the Naval Academy. And Pollowitz's correspondent should pay more attention; the phony tough guy in that race is George Allen, Jr. And the "cut-and-run crowd" is brimming with "tough guys."


"Captain" Ed (who's a Trekkie, not a Navy man) is an Iraq war supporter with the gall to criticize the UN's handling of Kosovo. I didn't support the NATO campaign against Kosovo in 1999, but I wouldn't suggest that the problem is that it should have been handled more like Iraq. "Captain" Ed, however disagrees:
People claim that the Bush administration had no plan for Iraq, but we helped the Iraqis form a representative government and held three national elections in less than half the time that the United Nations has sat on Kosovo. After bombing the Serbian army and forcing them to withdraw, the UN did nothing to address the status of the Kosovars for seven long years. In that time, ethnic violence has claimed the lives of dozens as the Serbs and the ethnic Albanians both jockey for position and power in advance of the talks.

I hate to minimize murder on any scale but dozens? The utter shamelessness of these people never ceases to amaze me. Here is "Captain" Ed -- ignoring the thousands of Americans Killed and maimed in Iraq and the tens of thousands of Iraqis killed, ignoring civil war engulfing that country -- lecturing the UN about its handling of Kosovo.

Like I said -- shameless.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Well . . .

Do we get the government we deserve, or don't we?

Never Mind

Perhaps Glenn Reynolds ought to read Pat Buchanan himself instead of relying on John Podheretz's interpretation and accuses him of calling Israel "un-Christian." Since Lil' Poddy doesn't specify the source of his charge, I'll assume that he's referring to the column where Buchanan says:
"Today, we are all Israelis!" brayed Ken Mehlman of the Republican National Committee to a gathering of Christians United for Israel.One wonders if these Christians care about what is happening to our Christian brethren in Lebanon and Gaza, who have had all power cut off by Israeli air strikes, an outlawed form of collective punishment, that has left them with no sanitation, rotting food, impure water and days without light or electricity in the horrible heat of July.

And anyway, why is it "anti-Semitic" (does this even mean anything anymore?) to call Israel "un-Christian"? Reynolds adds "Never mind what I'd call Pat Buchanan . . ." No problem there Glenn.

Geography Lesson

It wouldn't be the American Spectator without the Clinton obsession. Wlady Pleszczynski writes about Bill Clinton's appearance with Joe Lieberman:
Why would Bill Clinton choose Waterbury as the spot of his appearance for Joe Lieberman? A friend writes:"Waterbury is considered a pivot point in the 1960 Kennedy campaign, where the worshipful crowds foreshadowed a Kennedy win. Clinton has to know this. Given his ongoing emulation of JFK, is this location an accident? I have no idea . . ."

Yeah, there's the Kennedy angle; but isn't it also possible that he went their because, it's you know, in Connecticut?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Non-Human Corporations

Note some of the language in this post from the rightwing film blog, Libertas. It engages in a bit of preelection bet-hedging by blaming the forthcoming humiliating defeat of the Republicans on Hollywood. The post is about a presumably hagiographic movie about RFK. I'm no fan of Bobby, aptly described by Bill Kauffman as a "thuggish Marilyn-mauling (Joe) McCarthyite," but I don't see a movie about him seriously affecting the next election:
The fact that Hollywood continues to portray everything Republicans do (including fighting the War on Terror) as ill-motivated is something that has an effect on the public over time, and we’re probably going to see the results during the election . . .

Yeah, that's it. The Republicans are in trouble not because of their failings in the real world, but because the movies are mean to them. Libertas also notes that those identified as a "conservative/Christian/Republican/corporation/whatever" the movies turn you into a "dangerous, and almost non-human Other." Ignore the obvious for a moment -- corporations are by definition non-human. I don't see recently released movies often enough to know -- are movies these days the equivalent of Nazi propaganda? The examples Libertas lists do not give enough details to make the case.

Libertas is so exercised I'm surprised that instead of preparing for a Hollywood-induced Republican defeat at the polls this November that they aren't preparing their readers for a new Kristallnacht.


John Derbyshire is tired of thinking about the Middle East or Levant, as it used to be called:
Henry Kissinger was secretary of State he used to tell his aides that if he ever showed signs of taking an interest in the Cyprus problem, they should immediately put him in a straitjacket. If only we could be that indifferent to the Levant!

I know, I know, we can’t. Oil; nukes; Islam; terrorists; Russia and China — the Great Game of our time. We can’t ignore the damn loathsome filthy accursed place. Our statesmen have to come up with policies; we journalistic thumb-suckers have to come up with opinions; all we citizens have to come up with taxes to pay for the warships and armies, the bribes and subsidies, the front men and stool pigeons, the soldiers and diplomats. No, we can’t ignore the Levant. But Lord, how I wish we could!

Perhaps we can't ignore the Levant, but here is an idea -- maybe we should stop trying to run it.

Good News . . .

Our long national nightmare is over. Daniel Larison is back from Summer School at the Rockford Institute, where in open defiance of the Claremont Institute's Thought Police, he consorted with known and certified paleos.

Attention Claremont: while I wasn't there I am positive that not once did the Rockfordians discuss the applicability of the Declaration of Independence to Burundi.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Buchanan Caucus

I wonder if Townhall's "Executive Editor" Hugh Hewitt, who just consigned Townhall columnist George Will to the "Buchanan caucus" for daring to question the wisdom of a war against Iran while our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan swirl down the drain of neocon/Rumsfeldian hubris; is aware that Pat Buchanan is also a Townhall columnist.

I guess it depends on what the meaning of "executive" and "editor" is.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Now I'm beginning to wonder what is the cause of R.S. McCain's Smoosh obsession:
I suppose the Smoosh girls could have chosen other ways to express their disdain for the president, or they could have just kept their political opinions to themselves. But they didn't, and none of the "adults" -- parents, producers, publicists, record company executives -- who are responsible for guiding these girls thought to intervene.

So welcome to the culture war, Smoosh.

The way he is carrying on over them, you would get the idea that the girls of Smoosh are prattling on like Babs Streisand instead of casually wearing a button that you have to really be looking for to notice.

It must be getting hard to be a Bush supporter/defender these days . . .

Tough Sell

Steve Sailer writes:

War Fever: A friend writes:

2002-2003 is happening again in the blogosphere. I can feel it. Are there enough people to say "NO!" this time?

If, after all the hard lessons we've learned over the last three years, the United States still lets itself get dragged into a war in Lebanon or with Syria or Iran, it will be the stupidest conflict since the War of Jenkin's Ear.

He's right, but they are trying. Jeb Babbin seems to call for a total war in the Islamic world:

The second school of thought I have labeled, "Endgame Conservatism." Those such as I say that history from Carthage to Vietnam teaches that if we fail to prosecute a war in a manner calculated to win it decisively, we will lose it inevitably. We believe that terrorism cannot threaten us significantly without the support of nations, and that those nations that are preeminent in their support for terrorists -- Iran and Syria -- must be forcibly disconnected from terrorism. We believe that waiting for Islam to reform itself is tantamount to accepting defeat and that radical Islam (an ideology, not a religion) must be defeated just as Soviet Communism and German Nazism were.

Babbin is calling for a war totally different than the sort of conflict Americans were sold in 2003 -- a cakewalk accompanied by tax cuts. The war that Babbin and many other want this year will be a much tougher sell.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

World War Whatever

Question: if a tree falls in a forest, what the heck's the deal with Jonah Goldberg?
I thought Newt Gingrich did a very good job making the case that we're at the dawn of World War Three on Meet the Press today. My only caveat is that I think those who argue this is World War Four (Norman Podhoretz, James Woolsey et al) have a better argument. According to this view, the Cold War was WWIII. I like this formulation because A) it recognizes what a monumental effort the Cold War really was and B) it provides for more creative thinking about the predicament we're in now.

When you say "World War Three" the average person conjures the image of World War II. But the Cold War is the more relevant episode. The Cold War certainly involved bloodshed (Korea, Vietnam, etc) but it also involved aggressive efforts across a wide variety of fronts including public diplomacy, intelligence, propaganda (the good kind) etc. We understood that we were in a battle of ideas and values as much as a battle of blood and territory. Indeed, the stakes during the Cold War were arguably higher than those of the second World War because nuclear annihilation was in the cards. That, it seems to me, is a better prism through which we should see the current predicament . . .

Meanwhile, the advantage of calling all this World War Three is that it's easier to understand and takes less explanation. Most people don't think of the Cold War as a war so much as an effort to avoid one. But I think it's worth educating the public on why this wasn't the case.

You can tell this is even more fun than a game of Risk for this crowd! Contra Goldberg, I think the image that the term conjures up in most people if you mention World War III is of a catastrophic nuclear exchange.

I can't see how it is useful to label the current conflict a world war other than to inflate the ego of the labeler. In fact, it might promote muddled thinking that leads to fighting the wrong kind of war. In addition, I was under the impression that invading Iraq would avoid a larger war, as Thomas Sowell claimed in 2003.

UPDATE: Derb Dissents.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Be Like Iraq?

Is is possible that the most powerful man in the world is a dimwitted cretin? Yes it is. At a press conference at the G8 summit in Russia President Bush and Vladimir Putin had the following exchange:

"I (Bush) talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq where there's a free press and free religion, and I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same thing," Bush said.

Putin replied: "We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, I can tell you quite honestly."

"Just wait," Bush said after Putin's remarks were translated into English.

If it isn't bad enough that Bush insultingly lectured his host, he suggested that he turn his country into another Iraq. Russia has its problems, of course. Being governed by a fool and world-historical embarrassment isn't one of them. That's our burden.

Courageous Rick

National Review Online's estimable editor, Katheryn Jean Lopez sees the heroism in Sen. Rick Santorum, where others only see the shady dealing:

Leave all your Oliver Stone biases at home when you go see his new film "World Trade Center." It's all-American and well-timed. This September will mark the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on American soil. And Americans -- unless they happen to have a family member deployed or had lost someone on 9/11 -- don't generally seem to have a keen sense that we're at war. This movie reminds us we are.

"For no other reason than it was the right thing to do." These are the last words spoken by one of the film's stars, Nicolas Cage, about the rescue workers who risked their lives, coming from near and far, to save the only 20 people who ultimately would be rescued from the rubble -- words that parallel Rick Santorum's steadfastness in the Senate.

Santorum, R-Pa., is up for re-election this year in one of the country's most contentious races. He's behind and he's a lightning rod. But agree or disagree with him on the issues -- abortion (he's against), the war we're in (he's a better articulator of it than most of the White House) -- you'll have to agree there's something fundamentally American about him.

Um, yeah. I suppose it takes lots of courage to occasionally take a break from melding K street with the Republican Congress to address the issues.

Fortunately, just after reading Lopez, I received the July 31 issue of The American Conservative with cover articles by Steve Sailer, James Pinkerton and Bill Kauffman on the problems of the Democratic Party. Kauffman's article is a review of Where Did the Party Go? by Jeff Taylor. To top it off, it has an article by North Dakota Democratic senator, Byron Dorgon. I haven't read any of it yet, but it is comforting just to know that NR and Townhall don't represent the whole of conservatism.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Deranged Right-Wing Bush Supporter Derangement Syndrome

Donkey Cons Coauthor, Robert Stacy McCain finally is addressing the important issues on his blog, me. He describes me as a "lover of Crunchy Cons(not entirely incorrect), defender of Smoosh (sometimes)" who "hates Donkey Cons" (a bit harsher than my actual take). He notes that we both write for The American Conservative and Chronicles occasionally, and we are "both thus clearly associated with paleoconservatism." His point being, more or less, that we should all get along.

Here is the crux of his argument, which I will address in part:

What we have here, then, is a most curious misunderstanding. Mr. Stooksbury and I seem to inhabit almost synchronous orbits within what might be called the paleolibertarian region of the political galaxy, our chief points of disagreement being:
  • Mr. Stooksbury's admiration of Crunchy Cons, a book based on the Buddhist economics detested by the libertarian Skousen, and generally panned by conservative critics. (In the latest issue of The American Spectator, Florence King may have outdone us all.)
  • Mr. Stooksbury is anti-war and seems to have conceived me as some sort of neocon chickenhawk warmonger type. In fact, as friends will attest, I was a confirmed skeptic of the casus belli for the Iraq invasion -- at least so far as it was publicly articulated by its advocates. But once the war began, I was for victory. In other words, if this is ancient Athens, then I am not the rash and ambitious Alcibiades, but the wise statesman Nicias, who advised against the expedition to Sicily but, once the assembly voted to go, urged them to make the expedition with the strongest possible force.
  • Mr. Stooksbury seems to have been afflicted with a variant strain of Bush Derangement Syndrome that is widespread among my paleolibertarian friends.

I'll ignore the bit about the Dreher book and address the other two. McCain is right that I opposed the war from the beginning. His view that once in it, we should try to win is not entirely wrong. In 2003, before a blog captured my every thought, I would have argued that we should try to accomplish something of value before leaving. I think the window of opportunity to has long since closed. Cutting and running looks like a better option every day.

I remember when everything seemed to be coming up roses due to the Bush foreign policy, from Libya giving up some weapons to the color-coded revolutions. How do things look now? Iraq, with in excess of 100,000 American occupiers, is in the midst of an all-but-officially named civil war, the other two members of the Axis of Evil are growing more and more belligerent. I seem to remember that taking out Saddam was key to solving problems among Israel and the Palestenians. And how is that going?

I don't have Bush Derangement Syndrome. I would describe the malady from which I suffer as Deranged Right-Wing Bush Supporter Derangement Syndrome (DRWBSDS). Most of my DRWBSDS comes from reading Power Line, Hugh Hewitt and pundits like Jay Nordlinger, whose creepy fawning over Bush and Rumsfeld inspired an article by me in The American Conservative a few years back.

McCain says that he isn't part of the problem. "Nobody at Official Conservative Movement headquarters has ever solicited my advice, nor do I expect an invite to the next state dinner at the White House." Fair enough. As coauthor of Donkey Cons, he is promoting the idea that conservatives have nothing more to think about than how awful the Democrats are. But the record of rightwing Republican rule for the last six years indicates that the right should spend more time looking in the mirror.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

McGill in 06, 10, 12, . . .

I see via Rob Huddleston that my Chronicles/American Conservative contributing, Reactionary Radical leaning, Empire-opposing member of Congress has a primary opponent. Ralph McGill is running against Duncan on the issues that I support him for -- his staunch opposition to the war in Iraq.

McGill also recalls the term-limits populism of Jack Gargan with his call for a limit of one consecutive term for members of Congress:
Get rid of career, lifetime politicians and completely reform Congress by instituting term limits! My proposal - no one can serve more than a total of 12 years in any combination of House and Senate terms, and no one can be elected to consecutive terms in either the House or the Senate - no re-elections! Do this, and maybe people who serve in the House and Senate will be bold enough to do what's right for the country rather than only what's right for re-election!! . . .

What non-sense. How with such a policy restricting members to non-consecutive terms is anyone ever going to accomplish his other goals such as:
Take measures to mute the power of the Supreme Court! How? We have checks and balances in place - use them! When the Supreme Court does something outrageous like the "eminent domain" decision, pass a Constitutional Amendment that overrules the Supreme Court ruling. Why doesn't that happen now? Because we have timid people in Congress who think they will make somebody mad, and they might not get re-elected. (See the bullet above). I also favor limited terms for Supreme Court justices instead of lifetime appointments. I would propose that we limit them to 10-year terms and no re-appointments.

He also wants to, "get the government off the backs of Christians. It seems we have religious freedom and tolerance for Muslims, atheists, and everyone else, but not for Christians. Quit the demonization of Christianity!" Now is this remotely the case? I'm aware that the occasional public school bureaucrat goes berserk at the sight of a sixth-grader with a Bible and that snooty Hollywood types sneer at Presbyterians in flyover country; but is this synonymous with saying that Christians don't have freedom of religion?

I don't know where McGill lives, but it can't be in the second district of Tennessee, where everywhere you look you see churches. And they aren't hiding. They tend to have steeples, signs and Crosses designating what they are. In addition, you see Christian bookstores and schools operating openly and notoriously. It is a tribute to Christianity's central importance in American life today that a politician like Howard Dean, who doesn't seem to have a Christian bone in his body, feels the need to ineptly pander to Christian voters.


If I remember correctly, it was Democrats and liberals who complained about a Bush campaign ad from 2004 that exploited 9/11. It features firemen carrying what appears to be a flag-draped casket, set against the wreckage of ground zero in New York. Now the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee has an ad making the right-wing nutballsphere go, well, nuts. It includes a shot of flag-draped caskets, intended to represent Iraq casualties, and unsubtly remind the viewers that Americans are dying in Iraq more than three years after Bush foolishly declared victory. It is a valid point, but done in a way that may offend some families of those who died in Iraq.

I'm guessing, however, that the Republican Echo Chamber is indulging in mock-outrage to score political points. NRO's Katheryn Lopez parrots a Republican Congressman's attempt to exploit the ad that is despicable. Congressman Jeb Hensarling raves:
"The families of the fallen heroes of the War on Terror deserve our utmost respect and compassion," said Hensarling. "They do not deserve to see the deaths of loved ones exploited by Rep. Emanuel and the DCCC."

"As former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, I have seen the Democrats employ a lot of low-brow political tactics over the years, but Rep. Emanuel has sunk to a new low with this video," Hensarling said. Using images of flag-draped coffins of American heroes in this sort of video is shameless and disgusting, and I ask that Rep. Emanuel apologize to military families for any pain that he has caused."

If Hensarling were genuinely concerned about sparing the feelings of "the families of the fallen heroes of the War on Terror"--as oppossed to say, clinging to power-- he would have appealed to the better better nature of Congressman Emanual. Instead he chose to spout partisan invective in a way that is exploits the suffering of Iraq War casualties as much as the Democrats did.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Terrorists & Tomato Pickers

Will the cause of immigration restriction survive its supporters such as Colorado state representative Debbie Stafford(via Kevin Drum), who upset that new citizenship restrictions on state benefits doesn't apply to those under 18 declaimed, "We're helping create the next generation of terrorists." Whatever.

I'm as supportive of controlling the border as anyone, even cretins like Stafford; but I'm aware of the difference between terrorists and Tomato pickers.

Bad Sign

Max Schulz, writing in American Conservatism : An Encyclopedia, says about Regnery Publishing:
The mention of Regnery elicits thoughts of seminal conservative books such as Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind (1953) and God and Man at Yale (1951) . . .Henry Regnery famously said that turning a profit would be a sure sign that they were doing something wrong. . .Recent years have seen the company shed its old reputation for a new one--as a publisher of right-wing polemics bent on bruising Left-liberal icons. . .

Regnery has sold lots of books in the last decade, but they produce ephemeral fluff. The Conservative Mind is more than fifty years old and it will be read in fifty years from now. I doubt that any of Regnery's current crop of best sellers will be read as well.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Have You Now, Or Ever Been . . .

Richard H. Reeb of the Claremont Institute fingers Daniel Larison as a thoughtcriminal:
Larison is a Ph.D. student in Byzantine History at the University of Chicago, who writes at Polemics and Enchiridion Militis. He has also written for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. These credentials, not to mention his criticism, show him to be a certified paleocon.

Hmmm. Where does one go to become a "certified" paleocon? Rockford, I guess. Perhaps it involves some sort of ceremony with Thomas Fleming and/or Pat Buchanan. I have been writing for Chronicles for more than eight years now and I still haven't been certified yet.

Where Did the Party Go?

I received my copy of Jeff Taylor's Where Did the Party Go?: William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey, And the Jeffersonian Legacy, from the University of Missouri Press today. Bill Kauffman mentioned it on more than one occcasion at Reactionary Radicals and has a review forthcoming in The American Conservative. It looks like a good book about the downward spiral of the Democrats ffrom Jefferson to the Clintons and Joe Lieberman.

Our Freedom & Our Liberty . . .

A.C. Kleinheider alerts me to the . . . thoughts of Glen Dean on the subject of "libertarian purity."

A few days ago, a really nice fellow that I knew from a libertarian chat room, emailed me an article from Lew entitled "In Defense of Libertarian Purity". Lew certainly isn't the type of website that I normally visit. In fact, I hate it. In my opinion, most of the articles written at Lew Rockwell are written by idiots. I am not, nor will I ever be a Big L libertarian. I am also not, nor will I ever be anything close to an anarchist. No, I am not an Internet/academic nut job who wants to see all government overthrown, I am a rational libertarian.
. . .
where I differ from these so-called "purists", is that I don't believe bombing people who bombed us first conflicts with libertarianism.
. . .
I live in the reality that our freedom and our liberty was not won on the battlefields of Harvard and Berkley, but at Valley Forge and Yorktown, and not by supreme thinkers, but by fighting men . . .

The obvious point to make is that the U.S. military isn't "bombing the people who bombed us first," but occupying a country that didn't attack the United States, and lacked the means to do so. I understand what Americans were fighting for at Valley Forge and Yorktown, although I assume that the most important issue was independence. I can't really say for sure what Americans are fighting for in Baghdad and Samarra.

Monday, July 10, 2006


As the link on your right side of the screen indicates, I finally got my copy of American Conservatism : An Encyclopedia. While I haven't started reading it, as such, yet; I have enjoyed checking on all of its subjects and contributors. As of yet I haven't been disappointed when checking to see if a subject is covered. Take publications, for example. It has entries on the publications that you would expect: The American Conservative, the American Spectator, Chronicles, the Modern Age, National Review and the Weekly Standard. But it also has the Sewanee Review and Southern Partisan.

Included among the topics are the America First Committee, General Curtis LeMay and Westbrook Pegler. It's completeness means that an important figure such as Hilaire Belloc is next to a pompous-assed gasbag like Bill Bennett.

I can only assume that it will turn out to be one of the better book purchases that I have made in the last few years, and I look forward to Daniel McCarthy's forthcoming review.

Forgotten Lessons

New American Militarism author, Andrew Bacevich examines the occupiers attitude towards civilian deaths in Iraq, and what that has meant for the war effort in the Washington Post:

But recall a more recent incident, in Samarra . On May 30, U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint there opened fire on a speeding vehicle that either did not see or failed to heed their command to stop. Two women in the vehicle were shot dead. One of them, Nahiba Husayif Jassim, 35, was pregnant. The baby was also killed. The driver, Jassim's brother, had been rushing her to a hospital to give birth. No one tried to cover up the incident: U.S. military representatives issued expressions of regret. . .

The killing at the Samarra checkpoint was not an atrocity; most likely it was an accident, a mistake. Yet plenty of evidence suggests that in Iraq such mistakes have occurred routinely, with moral and political consequences that have been too long ignored. Indeed, conscious motivation is beside the point: Any action resulting in Iraqi civilian deaths, however inadvertent, undermines the Bush administration's narrative of liberation, and swells the ranks of those resisting the U.S. presence.

Gen. Tommy Franks, who commanded U.S. forces when they entered Iraq more than three years ago, famously declared: "We don't do body counts." Franks was speaking in code. What he meant was this: The U.S. military has learned the lessons of Vietnam -- where body counts became a principal, and much derided, public measure of success -- and it has no intention of repeating that experience. Franks was not going to be one of those generals re-fighting the last war.

Unfortunately, Franks and other senior commanders had not so much learned from Vietnam as forgotten it. This disdain for counting bodies, especially those of Iraqi civilians killed in the course of U.S. operations, is among the reasons why U.S. forces find themselves in another quagmire. It's not that the United States has an aversion to all body counts. We tally every U.S. service member who falls in Iraq, and rightly so. But only in recent months have military leaders finally begun to count -- for internal use only -- some of the very large number of Iraqi noncombatants whom American bullets and bombs have killed.

. . .

In the early days of the insurgency, some U.S. commanders appeared oblivious to the possibility that excessive force might produce a backlash. They counted on the iron fist to create an atmosphere conducive to good behavior. The idea was not to distinguish between "good" and "bad" Iraqis, but to induce compliance through intimidation.

"You have to understand the Arab mind," one company commander told the New York Times, displaying all the self-assurance of Douglas MacArthur discoursing on Orientals in 1945. "The only thing they understand is force -- force, pride and saving face." Far from representing the views of a few underlings, such notions penetrated into the upper echelons of the American command. In their book "Cobra II," Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor offer this ugly comment from a senior officer: "The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I'm about to introduce them to it."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Con vs. Con . . .

Jason, a reader commenting on Rod Dreher's post about Robert Stacey McCain's "review" of Crunchy Cons in Reason Magazine; invites me to take up the cudgel against McCain's book promotion blog, Donkey Cons. "I hope Clark Stooksbury comes across that web site. He'll have a field day."

Actually I came across McCain's blog a few months back, altough I'm not sure that I have posted anything about until now. I came across it when I was writing a review of McCain's (and Lynn Vincent's) book, Donkey Cons : Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party, which will be published in the August issue of Chronicles.

But as Maria von Trapp would say, er, sing, "Let's start at the very beginning." The June issue of Reason published the aforementioned review, which was in reality a dismissive little sidebar filled with non sequiturs. McCain's follow up post responding to Dreher indicates that he believes that Dreher is simply engaging in conspicuous consumption:
By "non-factory-farmed meat," Dreher refers to modes of production which add significantly to costs. It is all fine and good for the affluent educated elite to seek out organic vegetables and free-range meat, since they have the money, knowledge, and time to do so. This option is not really available to the poor, who must eat cheap or go hungry. Because there are (and always will be) more poor than rich people, the ostentatiously "moral" eating habits of the elite will have no measureable effect on the welfare of feed animals in general.

What Dreher's adoration of the organic diet is really about is Veblenesque conspicuous consumption. In this case, the status display involves moral virtue. Dreher apparently believes that his grocery shopping habits make him morally superior to those of us who just buy whatever's on sale at Food Lion. If I refuse to "engage" such an argument, it is because no sober person could take it seriously.

What nonsense. Factory farming and agribusiness don't produce "cheap" food-- they externalize their costs. It is safe to assume that Robert Stacey McCain doesn't care at all about the environmental damage done by the "meat-industrial complex," but that doesn't mean it that there is no reason for concern.

The real reason for McCain's antipathy seems to be jealousy. In Reason he wrote, "Right now, I'm envious of Dreher, whose anti-materialist conservative book is selling like crazy at" On his blog he added, "Last I heard, Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons was in its third printing, having been promoted with its very own theme blog at National Review Online. But Dreher, not content with having pocketed fat royalty checks from Crown Forum . . ."

I guess more people are into Crunchy than Donkey. I noted in my forthcoming review in Chronicles that, " Donkey Cons holds little appeal for anyone who isn't already a partisan Republican, and it enters a market already saturated with the products of Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Bernard Goldberg, Michelle Malkin, and many others." It must stick in McCain's craw all the more since, to the extent that the books are aimed at conservatives, Dreher is offering up (organic, hippie-grown) spinach; while Donkey Cons offers ice-cream (store-bought, from factory-farm cows whose unhealthy bodies are crammed with antibiotics -- and he likes it that way, dammit!). It is a big heaping bowl of "DEMOCRATS ARE BAD!!!!!"

I guess that even many on the right want more nutritional value.

Friday, July 07, 2006

David Horowitz "Freedom" Center

In the spirit of the just announced David Horowitz "Freedom Center," I would like to announce the creation of several other new centers:

-The Bill Clinton Monogamy Center.
-The Michelle Malkin Anger Management Center.
-The Bill Kauffman Globalism Center.
-The Hugh Hefner Chastity Center.

The possibilities are endless, and await endowment by Bill Gates or some other rich person.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

True Believers

Is it possible that at this late date, people are still saying this sort of thing:

The Clintons -- and the plural is more accurate than the singular -- picked generals for their political fealty rather than military prowess. The worst public examples were Wesley Clark (a Friend of Bill from their Oxford Rhodes scholar days), and Anthony Zinni. Having spent too much time in the company of Arab leaders, Zinni became addicted to stability in the Middle East and opposed the Iraq war from the beginning.

Is Anthony Zinni supposed to be embarrassed about being so obviously right? I would say that there are at least three categories (ignoring the mostly Democratic politicians who voted yes out of political expediancy) of people on the Iraq War issue. The first includes those of us with the sense to oppose it from the beginning. The second is made up of those who were once hawkish, but are now chastened by their initial support -- I would include Andrew Sullivan, John Derbyshire and Congressman Walter B. "Freedom Fries" Jones.

The third category is made up of the dwindling band of true believers, and includes Jed Babbin, the author of the above quote.

Buchanan & Rummy

I have read Alan Wolfe's lengthy article from the Washington Monthy about conservative governance, and there is plenty of good stuff in it. But why does he drop bizarre statements like this?:
For Pat Buchanan to blame the neocons for the failure in Iraq ignores the fact that the man most responsible for the failure, Donald Rumsfeld, has more in common with Buchanan than he does with Bill Kristol. (One prominent neoconservative, however, Paul Wolfowitz, did sign on enthusiastically to Rumsfeld's agenda.) Iraq failed for the same reasons that all conservative public policy efforts fail. Refusing to acknowledge the importance of government while relying on it to achieve your objectives causes the same kind of chaos in foreign policy that it does in matters closer to home.

Boy Columnist

Townhall's intrepid boy columnist, Ben Shapiro, pens what would have to be the worst Independence Day tribute I have seen. He combines lines from the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" with some from the Declaration of Independence, presidential war speeches and his own deep thoughts to make the founding of the United States synonymous with a declaration of permanent war. Oddly he neglects to mention William McKinley's plans to "Christianize" and "civilize" the Phillipines or quote from LBJ's Gulf of Tonkin speech:
His truth is marching on. On January 31, 2006, as American troops were engaged in remote areas of the Islamic world, President George W. Bush gave his State of the Union Address. "Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery," Bush said. "Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?
That's a brief taste. Read the whole thing only if you have a strong stomach.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I've been away for a few days, not because I was in a burn ward for a fireworks injury, but because my internet connection mysteriously stopped working. During the interregnum I amused myself with such old-fashioned activities such as reading and watching movies, and discovered how often I get the urge to look something up on Wikipedia or the Internet Movie Database. I watched The Music Man, which is a great Fourth of July movie and started reading John Zmirak's Wilhelm Ropke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist, which makes me look forward to reading the copy of The Social Crisis of Our Time that I picked up recently.