Saturday, September 30, 2006

Book Chat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Last Gentleman

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

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Thin Line

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

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

Animal Farm

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

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Stick With It

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

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

Old Books

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

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

George Allen meet John Huey Ketchum

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

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

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

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

She betrayed no recognition of this anti-Sabbath institution.

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

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

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Long Emergency

I saw a great talk at UT tonight by James Howard Kunstler, the author of Home from Nowhere, and several other books. He spoke on the topic of his most recent work, The Long Emergency. I'm not quite ready to buy his notion that the world will soon reach peak oil production and the American Way of Life as we know it will collapse, but he is an entertaining and iconoclastic speaker and I don't think his message can just be dismissed.

After the talk, I had him sign a book and discussed his fellow Upstate reactionary, Bill Kauffman; for whom Kunstler provided a blurb to Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette.

I'm glad I went out tonight --Tuesday UT features a Tweedle De/Tweedle Dum debate with Jonah Goldberg and Peter Beinart. Zzzzzz.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Some Observations . . .

from Dr. Percy:

"If there is such a thing as a Southern way of life, part of it has to do with not speaking of it."--The Thanatos Syndrome, 1987.

"There is one sure cure for cosmic explorations, grandiose ideas about God, man, death, suicide, and such -- and that is nausea. I defy a man afflicted with nausea to give a single thought to these vast subjects."

"What do you do if you can't stand people yet need a person?"-- The Second Coming, 1980.

"Here is an incidental discovery: If you tell somebody what to do, they will do it. All you have to do is know what to do. Because nobody else knows."--Lancelot, 1977.

"I do believe the South has produced more high-minded women, women of universal sentiments, than any other section of the country except possibly New England in the last century. Of my six living aunts, five are women of the loftiest theosophical panBrahman sentiments. The sixth is still a Presbyterian."-- The Moviegoer, 1961.

Separation of What?

Just when I thought that my opinion of the Republican regime in Washington couldn't go any lower, I pick up this tidbit from the October American Prospect:
Cheney regularly attends Senate Republican caucus meetings, sometimes accompanied by Karl Rove. Just in case Cheney and Rove needed help keeping the caucus in line, the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, was handpicked by the White House to succeed the ousted Trent Lott.

I knew that Frist was little more than a sockpuppet for the Whitehouse, but this is ridiculous. The Senate is in an entirely different branch of government than the president, and it should have its own prerogatives and agenda; even if both are controlled by the same party. Sad to say, it will take a Democratic victory this fall to restore something as basic as the separation of powers.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I'll stay away from the latest bizarre twist in the Virginia race between James Webb and George Allen other than to generally endorse Daniel Larison's take on the issue. Instead I'll note yet another brewing controversy in the already weird Virginia campaign. At NRO's "Sixers," a special blog dedicated to shilling for Republican candidates, Greg Pollowitz notes that the Webb campaign is referring to their opponent as "George Felix Allen Jr."

Pollowitz whines that "the blog left thinks it's emasculating in some way" and notes that "making fun of someone's name is the definition of 'manly', don't you think?" Pollowitz obviously isn't very familiar with American politics -- candidates often derisively refer to their opponents by their full names ("J. Danforth Quayle"; "William Jefferson Clinton"), and as far as "emasculating" Webb I'll just add that John Kerry looks French.

I would prefer to see George Allen loose the election on the important issue -- he is a senatorial rubber stamp for the failed policies of the Bush administration. If he loses because he has been exposed as a 98-pound weakling like the guy in the Charles Atlas ad, that will be fine with me. So much of Allen's appeal is that he supposedly is a real man. I remember last year when National Review published a cover story on Allen by their editor Tina Brown, er, Rich Lowry. Lowry positively swooned because Allen drinks black coffee and revels in focus-group-tested macho activities such as ridin' a Harley and rootin' for Junior. Who would have thought that a few months into the future the sissy Defeatocrats would nominate someone who makes George Allen look like a wimp?

Felix? Sen. Allen will be lucky to avoid becoming Sen. "Boy Named Sue" by election day.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tennesseans Against Allen

I don't trust the judgement of Rob Huddleston on the James Webb/George Allen "Meet The Press" debate from yesterday. Huddleston, blogging from Tennesseans For Allen describes Webb as "flaky" and "weak and bullheaded." I watched part of the debate as well, and George Allen was the one who looked weak.

Of course, I don't trust my own judgement on the issue since I can't stand the phony-baloney cowboy/Dubya clone and would like to see him suffer a humiliating defeat this fall, or even better -- eke out a narrow victory that is weak enough to kill his presidential ambitions while forcing him to serve out another term in the Senate.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Andrew Sullivan notes a rare admission from Glenn Reynolds, of the "currently-deteriorating situation in Iraq and Afghanistan."

This is a momentous statement from one of the more reality-challenged supporters of the Bush Administration's policies. His viewers -- Instapundit is essentially a smug version of the crawl across the bottom of your cable news channel -- almost never get a chance to see such a statement. You rarely get the impression from Instapundit that things have gone seriously wrong in Iraq. I could never find any evidence that he got a copy of Tom Ricks' Fiasco "in the mail." Rarely, does he mention that people other than Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore, such as Andrew Bacevich, oppose the war in Iraq. Reynolds hasn't even acknowledged that his own representative in Congress is a conservative Republican and a Presbyterian elder who voted against invading Iraq. C'mon Glenn, let me year you say it: "Jimmy Duncan isn't against the war, he's just on the other side."

Usually, I get the impression from Instapundit that Reynolds believes that everything is just fine in Iraq and Afghanistan and that Rumsfeld and Cheney have done a swell job; if only the Liberal Media and the Democrats would get on board.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Adventures in Google Ads

Currently, there is a Google Ad up at iSteve for Muslim Girl magazine.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Double Incompetence

Victor D. Hanson makes the case, not heard often enough, that Afghanistan is as screwed up as Iraq, though he doesn't characterize it that way:
But if we put aside for the moment the reasons to have gone into each country, the two now look remarkably the same. Both have fragile democratic governments. Radical Islamists--using similar tactics of suicide bombing and improvised explosive devices--are pouring in from sanctuaries across the border, whether Pakistan or Syria and Iran. Bin Laden and Dr. Zawahiri themselves have boasted that Iraq, at the heart of the ancient caliphate, is now the frontline theater for the jihadists.

So far the international approval of Afghanistan and its smaller costs have ensured support from the Left. But note, as casualties begin to mount, and the nature of the counter-insurgency fighting increasingly begins to resemble Iraq--as it must in this particular front of a global war--and as the magic multilateral solution proves a mirage, the NATO coalition being no more effective than the coalition of the willing in Iraq, expect to see the Democratic leadership begin to bail on Afghanistan as well.
Unlike Iraq, we invaded Afghanistan with a legitimate justification, but as the Tora Bora battle and Operation Anaconda show, the same incompetent crowd is in charge.


I asked a question in the comments of a Vodkapundit post and failed to get a satisfactory answer, so I will ask here and spice it up with a little reward.

For a billion dollars, heck let's make it ten: how did invading Iraq and toppling its secular dictator help us in our war against the "Islamofascists"? Think about it for a minute before answering and remember that Saddam Hussein was an enemy of Iran and no friend of Osama bin Laden. Now look at the guy in charge in Iraq playing kissyface with that nut from Iran. It seems to me that we might have been better off leaving Saddam alone.MalikiAhmadenijad.jpg

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Judascons . . .

The Washington Monthly has a symposium of conservative writers arguing that it is preferable for Republicans to lose control of Congress this fall with contributions from such luminaries as Jeffrey Hart and Joe Scarborough. The introduction states:
With Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, conservatives these days ought to be happy, but most aren't. They see expanding government, runaway spending, Middle East entanglements, and government corruption, and they wonder why, exactly, the country should be grateful for Republican dominance. Some accuse Bush and the Republicans today of not being true conservatives. Others see a grab bag of stated policies and wonder how they cohere. Everyone thinks something’s got to change.

Now seven prominent conservatives dare to speak the unspeakable: They hope the Republicans lose in 2006. Well, let’s be diplomatic and say they’d prefer divided government--soon.

I haven't read them all yet and can only assume that they are liberally sprinkled with terms like "disaster," "disgrace," "miserable failure" and "incompetent."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Works and Days . . .

Great news! Victor Davis Hanson has a new blog hosted by Pajamas Media called Works and Days. For readers not as erudite and learned as Hanson, I will tell you that "Works and Days" refers to a poem by Hesiod, a Greek guy.

So get out your pipe and jacket-with-elbow-patches and be prepared for plenty of learned references to Thucydides and F Troop.

Decoration Day

For reasons I've never bothered to learn, many in the War Party strongly dislike Google. Jonah Goldberg, for example, is upset that they have nothing commemorating 9/11 while Dogpile has a picture of a dog sitting behind some American flags. I don't know about Goldberg, but I already own American Flags -- I just use Google for searching on the web.

Goldberg even quotes a disgruntled ex-Googler:
It took me two minutes to switch from Google toolbar to Dogpile toolbar. The best part was that the Google uninstall page had a comments box asking why I was getting rid of their service. I let them know. Believe me, I let them know.

Oddly, neither Goldberg nor his correspondent seem to upset about the lack of decoration on the homepage of other search engines such as Yahoo! and, and here's the crowning irony -- at NRO's the Corner.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Privatize This!

Matthew Yglesias succinctly explains the problem with privatization. "There really are certain pathologies associated with government work. When money is allocated by a political process rather than a market process it tends to be allocated less efficiently. The trouble with privatization as a remedy to this problem is that it . . . doesn't remedy the problem, the money is still being allocated by a political process."

Bingo. I have long thought of most privatization schemes as bogus, Yglesias explains why without even breaking a sweat.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Spin Cycle

Glenn Reynolds notes some battle success in Afghanistan and invents an "MSM-style" negative spin headline to accompany it: "Over 200 killed in renewed Afghan violence."

Darned MSM, putting a negative spin on one of our glorious victories -- at least in Glenn's fantasy world. Reynolds didn't find any actual examples of negative media spin, and the most obvious one didn't even dawn on him -- that this is yet another example of the consequences of the Bush administration hastily declaring victory and failing to follow through.

But that is closer to reality than to spin. The war in Afghanistan is supposed to be over and we are supposed to have won. But the war goes on, as the New York Times reports in an obviously Liberal MSM slanted story:

On a July morning, Taliban gunmen shot dead the province's most powerful cleric as he walked to the main city mosque to lead morning prayers. Five months later, they executed a teacher at a nearby village school as students watched. The following month, they walked into another mosque and gunned down an Afghan engineer working for a foreign aid group, shooting him in the back as he pressed his forehead to the ground and supplicated to God.

This spring and summer, the slow and methodical siege of this southern provincial capital intensified. The Taliban and their allies set up road checkpoints, burned 20 trucks and slowed the flow of supplies to reconstruction projects. All told, in surrounding Helmand Province, five teachers, one judge and scores of police officers have been killed. Dozens of schools and courts have been shuttered, according to Afghan officials.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Great War and Modern Memory

Since everyone is intent on drawing historical parallels these days, Jonathan Chait produces a solid one in his Los Angeles Times (registration required) column: the 2006 midterm elections and the First World War.
Despite being called a "world" war, the vast majority of fighting from 1914-1918 took place in a relatively limited space. The same is true of the 2006 elections. Collectively, they are a national election, but for most Americans, the fight will take place "over there." The battle for control of the Senate will take place mostly within five states where Republicans, who hold a five-seat advantage, look vulnerable: Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Missouri. Democrats lead in the first four and appear close to a tie in Missouri. To win the Senate outright, the Democrats would have to sweep those states and win one more, most likely Tennessee, a conservative state where the Republican has retired, or Virginia, a moderately conservative state where incumbent Republican George Allen is in a a tight race with former Reagan official-turned-Democrat James H. Webb.

A pretty interesting argument, but I can't quite swallow his conclusion. "Democrats are probably far too giddy about what they can accomplish if they win in November. They aren't going to be able to stop the war in Iraq, and they won't banish pork-barreling or back-scratching. But that's OK. Woodrow Wilson didn't make the world safe for democracy, but he did manage to keep a pretty noxious regime from dominating a continent." Actually there is a compelling case that Wilson helped pave the way for two regimes far more noxious than Imperial Germany to dominate Europe.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Let's Pretend

I wish the War Party would make up its mind which year they are pretending this to be and who they are pretending to be Hitler. In the last few weeks, it has been 1938 with that guy in Iran filling in for Hitler. Now for Jeffrey Lord, its 1942, which would tend to make Saddam Hitler again.

I can see why they don't want to live in 2006, where they have led the country into a disasterous quagmire in Iraq because, as it turns out, Saddam Hussein had a few aged chemical weapons.

In 2006, the War Party is wrong about the past three years and faces an uncertain future. When they pretend that it's 1938 or 1942, at least they know how things turn out.