Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hot Air

Glenn Reynolds notes the slow hurricane season and makes one his patented witty asides: "But I thought that global warming was going to produce an ever-growing number of hurricanes like Katrina . . . ."

The problem is that the Ross Gelbspan column in the link doesn't say what Reynolds implies.

As the atmosphere warms, it generates longer droughts, more-intense downpours, more-frequent heat waves, and more-severe storms.

Although Katrina began as a relatively small hurricane that glanced off south Florida, it was supercharged with extraordinary intensity by the relatively blistering sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico. (emphasis added)

Gelbspan is saying that warming will intensify storms, not make more of them. The irony is that most of the Southeast could use a hurricane. Whatever damage one might do on the coast, if a tropical depression were to dump heavy rains over Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, it would be a blessing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Wins, Michelle's Head Explodes!

Had the committee consulted me, I would have recommended Bill McKibben for any global warming related Nobel Peace Prize, but it's worth seeing Al Gore (and the IPCC) win just to be able witness the fallout. Sure Michelle Malkin's head explodes about 30 times a week, but it never seems to get old--at least not to her.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

odds & Ends

Because American political coverage isn't vacuous enough, Pajamas Media has a roundup of links about the latest critical issue--Obama's "refusal" to wear an American flag pin. Where's the MSM on this critical issue?

This Victor Davis Hanson post has a list of "leftwing talking points" that Ahmadinejad talked about in New York recently. They include "Katrina, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, missing WMD, the 1953 Iranian coup." It's interesting that he cedes the issues of competent government and torture to the leftwing, but what caught my was the part about the 1953 coup. I haven't noticed leftwingers bringing it up but it is worthwhile to occasionally remind Americans that our history with that country didn't begin in 1979. It may be "leftwing" for an American to bring the subject up but wouldn't it qualify as patriotic, a more conservative impulse, for an Iranian to be upset about it? I've noted before the disdain conservatives have for the patriotism of foreigners.

While praising The New Republic's ridiculous review of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Jeffrey Herf states that "Goldberg is quite right that many people in the West are reluctant to attach the label of anti-Semitism to arguments." I've been under the impression in the last few years that the term has been thrown around so carelessly that it has lost meaning.

The Bacevich article in the latest TAC has received loads of attention and that's good, but there are other worthwhile pieces in the issue. That includes an essay (the second of two) that includes this gem of a quote: ". . . for so long . . . far too many Americans, possibly a majority, preferred comforting lies to unpleasant truths and acted as co-conspirators in their own deception." It also features a column by Fred Reed pointing out that foreigners, the jerks, insist on seeing things from their own point of view and get tired of American meddling and condescension. Really?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Worse. Worser. Worstest.

Via Dennis Dale, I learn that Keith Olbermann took notice of Andrew Bacevich's Sycophant Savior essay in the Oct. 8 American Conservative. Dale writes that "Olbermann evinced (or affected) an unlikely ignorance of the vast gulf between current Republican Party leadership and the American Conservatives' valiant insurgency, deliberately encouraging the misunderstanding that the magazine and such Republican boosters as Rush Limbaugh are intellectual and political kin. Similar to the neocon's creative categorization of Shi'ite Hezbollah along with Sunni Al Qaeda."

I'm guessing that Olbermann had no idea of the vast gulf separating TAC from the Republican and rightwing establishment, which is pretty sad considering that the publication was cofounded by his MSNBC coworker, Pat Buchanan. I remember PJB and Bill Press promoting the first issue on that channel five years ago.

Olbermann declaimed that "for some reason there does not seem to be a George Bush-led race among Republicans to blast either Limbaugh or 'The American Conservative' the way they so happily wrung hands over the MoveOn.org Petraeus advertisement." For anyone in the know--a comparison between Bacevich, a perceptive critic and author who is one of our finest thinkers on foreign policy; and Limbaugh, a boorish ignoramus--is laughable. Also, I can't imagine Olbermann resisting Bacevich's backstory--a Vietnam veteran who lost his son to the Iraq War--if he had known about it.

P.S. When I wrote the part about the discussion of TAC's first issue it occurred to me that the magazine is now five years old. Happy Birthday!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Democracy in America . . .

Can somebody give me evidence to show that Americans have any capacity left for self-government? While trolling through NRO's Corner today, I caught this post from Kathryn Lopez with the text of a pro-Limbaugh resolution that Lopez, of course, endorses:

OCTOBER 1, 2007

Mr. KINGSTON submitted the following resolution


Commending Rush Hudson Limbaugh III for his ongoing public support of American troops serving both here and abroad. Recognizing Mr. Limbaugh for his relentless efforts to build and maintain troop morale through worldwide radio broadcasts and personal visits to conflict regions . . .

This is a counter the anti-Limbaugh resolution endorsed by some Democrats, that in turn is a counter to the anti-Moveon.org resolution that the Congress passed recently. Do these people have nothing better to do than to make fools of themselves, and of America, on the world stage?

Every time I start to think that I've become to cynical about the state of American Democracy, I discover that the opposite is the case.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Phony Soldiers . . .

Media Matters (via Matthew Yglesias) has a clip of a spittle-flecked, hysterical, rage-filled rant of Rush Limbaugh against a Republican (and military veteran) caller who favors leaving Iraq. The clip closes with Limbaugh calling those in the military who oppose the war "phony soldiers."

As I've said before, the War Party has nothing left to offer. Imagine Limbaugh a year from now with a Giuliani/Santorum (farfetched, I know) badly trailing an Edwards/Webb (again, farfetched). His head will probably explode on the air.

UPDATE: In the comments, Glen Dean suggests that I've been snookered by Media Matters and that Limbaugh and his caller weren't calling all antiwar soldiers "phony." The point of my post rested upon Limbaugh's frothing lunacy more than as a comment on the "phony soldiers" controversy. But I went back and listened to the clip again, and tried to read his raving self defense tirade from Friday. While it is likely that he was making a reference to a fake soldier that ABC News had done a story on a few days ago, Limbaugh and his caller are so careless with their words that they convey the impression that they believe that the only real soldiers are those that support the war. I haven't heard or read much of Limbaugh for the last few years, but from what I have, he doesn't believe that it is possible to honorably oppose the Iraq War. For this reason, and others, I have to agree with Daniel Larison who commented that Limbaugh is "disgrace."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saint Petraeus

In the forthcoming issue of The American Conservative, Andrew Bacevich delivers a thumpin' to Saint Petraeus. The crowd at Movon.org should read it and discover that substance is preferable to clever rhymes:
David Petraeus is a political general. Yet in presenting his recent assessment of the Iraq War and in describing the "way forward," Petraeus demonstrated that he is a political general of the worst kind—one who indulges in the politics of accommodation that is Washington’s bread and butter but has thereby deferred a far more urgent political imperative, namely, bringing our military policies into harmony with our political purposes.
Further down, Bacevich elaborates on of the most shameful aspects of Bush's war, and the Saint's role in it:
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to sustained bipartisan applause, President Bush committed the United States to an open-ended global war on terror. Having made that fundamental decision, the president and Congress sent American soldiers off to fight that war while urging the American people to distract themselves with other pursuits. . .

The result, six years later, is a massive and growing gap between the resources required to sustain that global war, in Iraq and elsewhere, and the resources actually available to do so. President Bush, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff serving as enablers, has papered over that gap by sending soldiers back for a third or fourth combat tour and, most recently, by extending the length of those tours. In a country with a population that exceeds 300 million, one-half of one percent of our fellow citizens bear the burden of this global war. . .

The president has made no serious effort to mobilize the wherewithal that his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan require. The Congress, liberal Democrats voting aye, has made itself complicit in this shameful policy by obligingly appropriating whatever sums of money the president has requested, all, of course, in the name of "supporting the troops."

Petraeus has now given this charade a further lease on life. In effect, he is allowing the president and the Congress to continue dodging the main issue, which comes down to this: if the civilian leadership wants to wage a global war on terror and if that war entails pacifying Iraq, then let’s get serious about providing what’s needed to complete the mission—starting with lots more soldiers. Rather than curtailing the ostensibly successful surge, Petraeus should broaden and deepen it. That means sending more troops to Iraq, not bringing them home. And that probably implies doubling or tripling the size of the United States Army on a crash basis.

If the civilian leadership is unwilling to provide what’s needed, then all of the talk about waging a global war on terror—talk heard not only from the president but from most of those jockeying to replace him—amounts to so much hot air. Critics who think the concept of the global war on terror is fundamentally flawed will see this as a positive development. Once we recognize the global war on terror for the fraudulent enterprise that it has become, then we can get serious about designing a strategy to address the threat that we actually face, which is not terrorism but violent Islamic radicalism. The antidote to Islamic radicalism, if there is one, won’t involve invading and occupying places like Iraq.

This defines Petraeus’s failure. Instead of obliging the president and the Congress to confront this fundamental contradiction—are we or are we not at war?—he chose instead to let them off the hook.
. . .

Politically, it qualifies as a brilliant maneuver. The general’s relationships with official Washington remain intact. Yet he has broken faith with the soldiers he commands and the Army to which he has devoted his life. He has failed his country. History will not judge him kindly.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Infantile Nation

Pat Buchanan has a good column on the Ahmadinejad hysteria of the last few days:

It would be an obscenity, we are told, if Ahmadinejad were allowed to place a wreath at Ground Zero. This is a public relations stunt that should never be permitted.

That the Iranian president has PR in mind is undoubtedly true. Much of what national leaders do is symbolic. But that wreath-laying would have said something else, as well.

It would have said that, to Iran, these Americans were victims who deserve to be honored and mourned and, by extension, the men who killed them were murderers. Bin Laden celebrates 9-11. So do all America-haters. By laying a wreath at Ground Zero, the president of Iran would be saying that in the war between al-Qaida and the United States, he and his country side with the United States.

How would we have been hurt by letting him send this message?

For what it's worth, I have no objection to allowing him to place a wreath (though I hadn't previously considered PJB's angle), but I wouldn't have invited Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia because he has little of value to say. But the level of hysteria coming from rightwingers is amazing. Remember how only a few days ago the issue was the Moveon.org ad. From what I see of Townhall, National Review, Pajamas and other such sites, the range of emotion varies from rage to hysteria to completely bonkers; and these people have the nerve to label their opponents as "Unhinged" and "deranged!"

This can only get worse. This crowd must continually change the subject to keep from having to defend the disastrous policies (particularly: "Hey, let's invade____!") that they have urged upon America.

UPDATE: Can this be the subject for the next round of outrage? Katie Couric had the audacity to state a couple of banal and obvious truths about the Iraq War: " Speaking at the National Press Club Tuesday evening, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric stated, 'Everyone in this room would agree that people in this country were misled in terms of the rationale of this war,' adding that it is 'pretty much accepted' that the war in Iraq was a mistake." How dare she say that?!?!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Way it Always Begins . . .

I've read about half of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, and believe me the critics are right. It has nothing but page after page of bilious Jew-hatred. Sure, the antisemitism is subtle, as when Mearsheimer and Walt say that they "believe the history of the Jewish people and the norm of national self-determination provide ample justification for a Jewish state."

Michael Gerson and Ronald Bailey are correct in noting that "these academics may not follow their claims all the way to anti-Semitism. But this is the way it begins. This is the way it always begins."

Perhaps I'm a bit excitable, but the other night I heard raucous crowds and saw lights in the evening and grew worried that a Mearsheimer/Walt inspired pogrom was occurring. Fortunately, news reports later confirmed that it was a UT football game. But what about the next time? What about the next time?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink . . .

Stephen Green took note of my criticism and responded. I'll just add that there is no possible way for me to convince him that the a government (even one that supports terrorists) doesn't face exactly the same set of incentives, challenges and problems as a band of cave dwelling terrorists; so I won't bother to try.

Concerning al Qaeda and 9/11, he makes a good points about them not having been able to hit the U.S. since that day and about us having killed lots of terrorists. I don't pretend to understand their thinking so I can't say if they were delusional enough to believe that they could get away with flying planes into skyscrapers on a regular basis.

But they achieved mass murder and induced the United States into what appears to be two failed occupations--a track record hardly compatible with the term "disaster."

What separates Green and myself, I'm guessing, is our diverging views of the Iraq War. If you think that Iraq was wisely conceived competently fought, then the notion that 9/11 was a disaster for al Qaeda makes much more sense.

Now I think I'll have a drink.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Booze Blogging

Perhaps Stephen Green should stop killing brain cells with booze. He argues against a statement by Jimmy Carter (about the unlikelyness of an Iranian missile attack on Israel) by stating:
But let's do remind him that it was just six years ago when al Qaeda launched four missiles, of the passenger jet variety, straight into the financial and military hearts of the United States. It might be helpful if Carter would remember that Afghanistan, from whence the 9/11 attackers came, is even further from New York than Israel is from Iran. And let's also remind Mr. Carter that that mission was specifically suicidal in nature. Maybe also Jimmy needs a refresher that the 9/11 attacks haven't worked out so well for al Qaeda. Finally, give the ex-President a moment to ask himself if he really thinks Ahmadinejad is any more sane than Osama bin Laden.

Ignore for a moment, that he confuses the motivations of a terrorist organization with those of a government. Can one really argue that the "9/11 attacks haven't worked out so well for al Qaeda?" What would be the basis for that? Sure, they lost their caves in Afghanistan, but bin Laden managed to find refuge in Pakistan. On the plus side for bin Laden, the attacks killed thousands of infidels and induced the United States into two wars. I assume that bin Laden thanks Allah every day for the invasion of Iraq, which has drawn the U.S. military into a quagmire and discredited America around the world.

Actors Are Cattle

Glenn Reynolds has a post up quoting James Caan saying, "nobody should give a shit about an actor's opinion on politics." I fully agree with Caan and I wish that Reynolds did as well. The only time I ever hear about what Sean Penn or Rosie O'Donnell has to say about politics is when I read about it at a rightwing blog like Instapundit, or Pajamas, or Townhall. A good recent example is an "Ask Dr. Helen (the 'Instawife') column at Pajamas about a Sally Field outburst at an awards show. Maybe Reynolds and his allies will take Caan's advice.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Connect the Dots . . .

John Hindraker can't understand why "why voters haven't seemed to be repelled by the Dems' wacky left wing" represented by Moveon.org.

So I'll help him out. No normal person cares about Moveon's "betray us" ad or about any of the other things that rightwingers are frothing about these days. I have seen no evidence that the public is shifting towards supporting the war or are showing any great faith in Saint Petraeus.

UPDATE Paul Krugman on Saint Petraeus:

To a remarkable extent, punditry has taken a pass on whether Gen. Petraeus’s picture of the situation in Iraq is accurate. Instead, it was all about the theatrics – about how impressive he looked, how well or poorly his Congressional inquisitors performed. And the judgment you got if you were watching most of the talking heads was that it was a big win for the administration – especially because the famous MoveOn ad was supposed to have created a scandal, and a problem for the Democrats.

. . .

But here’s the thing: new polls by CBS and Gallup show that the Petraeus testimony had basically no effect on public opinion: Americans continue to hate the war, and want out. The whole story about how the hearing had changed everything was a pure figment of the inside-the-Beltway imagination.

What I found striking about the whole thing was the contempt the pundit consensus showed for the public – it was, more or less, “Oh, people just can’t resist a man in uniform.” But it turns out that they can; it’s the punditocracy that can’t.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ledeen Among the Rednecks

Andrew Sullivan correctly pegs the poseur Michael Ledeen:

Flyover Country [Michael Ledeen]

Barbara and I went to Indianapolis for a Toby Keith concert, where we partied with something like 25,000 happy rednecks, most of them young, most of them wearing boots and cowboy hats (and cheering Keith's great song "I Should Have Been a Cowboy"). It's a great show, and he's a wonderful performer, not least because of his deeply moving patriotic songs like "American Soldier," "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," and " The Taliban," etc.

It's great to get out of the Washington culture of narcissism and spend some time with the rednecks, a.k.a. real Americans . . .

Which, after a week of disgusting anti-Americanism in Washington, nicely summed up our feelings.

You ought to try it. Does wonders for the spirit.

What a stupid jerk. The only things missing are references to chawin' terbacky and goin' to a NASCAR race. If a lefty were to write about "happy rednecks" in flyover country in such a condescending fashion, he would be eaten alive by the usual rightwing suspects.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Lobby

I purchased a copy of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by Walt and Mearsheimer, largely out of spite after reading (as much as I could stand) a review in the cretinous "Pajamas Media" by Lee Smith, who argues:
The key difference between most anti-Semitic tracts of the pre-Holocaust period and The Israel Lobby is Israel itself; after all, Zionism, arises under the same auspices as the Protocols – the international system of state sovereignty. Theodor Herzl believed that once the Jews had a state of their own and the Jews could take their place among nations, the Jewish problem would go away and Jews would become like everyone else. However, as The Israel Lobby shows, the irrational obsession with Israel as the root of all problems in the Middle East and US policy there, the willful misrepresentation of Israeli policies, and holding the Jewish state to standards in war and peace that not even the United States cares to observe, never mind, say, the Islamic Republic of Iran – Herzl on this count at least was wrong. A Jewish state has done nothing to curtail anti-Semitism.

I won't get around to reading the book right away, but I await the reviews that most likely appear in The American Conservatve, The New York Review of Books and perhaps a few other publications that will be illuminating rather than hysterical.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


This has to be the lamest thing ever . . .

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Duncan Against the War Party

Metro Pulse--Knoxville's weekly paper--has an article about Jimmy Duncan; and how he keeps winning in a conservative district while continuing to cast high profile votes against the Bush administration on the war in Iraq and related issues:

This bit of political analysis can be put to the real-world test at Barnes' Barber Shop in the heart of Knoxville's Burlington neighborhood. It's one of only two of the dozen businesses that remain open along the south side of Martin Luther King Drive in its 3900 block. The rest are shuttered and dismal. But the Barnes' shop is a working, wondrous anachronism. It boasts four old-time barber chairs, real wood paneling, lots of mirrors, photos and clippings on the walls, semi-cathouse wallpaper, ceramic tile floors and real people, the kind only Burlington Boys lay claim to. It's where Duncan had his first haircut, almost 60 years ago, and most of his haircuts since.

The Iraq War issue hasn't come up in his barber shop visits says Roy Berrier, who's been with the shop for 47 years and who has cut Duncan's hair countless times.

"We never did discuss it, but he knew how I felt," Berrier says. "I could have told him, 'I'm on your side. We've got no business over there. We're not going to win nothing,' but I didn't have to. He knew that."

How odd that my fellow Knoxville Blogger who links to about 50 million things a day--Glenn Reyolds--hasn't linked to this yet.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Making Sense of the American Right . . .

Paul Gottfried has a thing or two to learn about self-promotion. On and on he goes at Taki's Top Drawer about his new book with nary a link to the publishers webpage or Amazon, or even mention of the title:
Unless I’m mistaken, the liberal-neocon establishment will black out my new book, on the conservative movement, with the same dogged malice it brought to bear against my previous five works, including a tome published in a prestigious series by Princeton. It is therefore important that I advertise my book on this website—and not only to help boost my sales. Unless my book receives public attention, the future, publicized histories of the postwar conservative movement may be exclusively those of Heritage, AEI and other neoconservative disseminators of opinion. My book differs from the histories of such foundations and it does so by providing information of a kind that these sources will not likely provide. . But, to repeat my point, my work will not get read unless you buy and discuss it.

So allow me. It is Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right, published by Palgrave Macmillan and it sounds interesting. It has been several years since I read Gottfried's The Conservative Movement and a lot has changed since then. The new book should prove to be good reading.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Elites . . .

The September 10 issue of The American Conservative is out with my review of Elites for Peace: The Senate and the Vietnam War, 1964-1968 from the University of Tennessee Press. Here is a brief excerpt:
Vietnam wasn't America's only unpopular war in the 20th century, but it was the one that nearly tore the country apart when it inspired massive street protests in the late 1960s. In Elites For Peace, Gary Stone turns attention away from campus protesters and rioters and focuses instead on opposition coming from the corridors of power. At the center of Stone's narrative is Democratic Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, a man of contrasts. He was a signer of the segregationist "Southern Manifesto" who became a darling of the liberal intelligentsia. He started his career as an advocate of executive power, but became a harsh critic of the war policy of two presidents.

The rest of the issue looks good and features an appreciation of Lawrence of Arabia at 45 by Steve Sailer, a column by Daniel Larison on Barack Obama's Bushian foreign policy and an article by Michael Brendan Dougherty on the campaign of the Man from Hope, Mike Huckabee.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Raving Reynolds . . .

I suppose I should stop reading Instapundit in order to save my sanity, but what the heck is Glenn Reyonolds talking about when he writes?; "KOUCHNER IN BAGHDAD: France's Foreign Minister visits Iraq and observes: 'Now we have to face the reality, including the American view.' Think how much better things would be if the previous French administration had taken that view."

A plausible interpretation of what Reynolds is saying here is that he believes that it is France's fault that the Iraq war has been such a disaster. The more plausible one is that He is desparately grasping at straws and no longer knows or even cares what he is raving about.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I Have Nothing To Add

Hugh Hewitt:
The reality is that politicians demand that the troops be withdrawn from Iraq because that withdrawal will inflict a political defeat on the Administration. If the Army and marines are obliged to retreat, Democrats reason, there will be no way for the GOP to portray the invasion of Iraq as a sound decision.

Me: Speechless.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ain't My America

Here's something to whet the appetite of Bill Kauffman fans: a description of his forthcoming Ain't My America, from the Henry Holt catalog:
As Bill Kauffman makes clear, true conservatives have always resisted the imperial and military impulse: it drains the treasury, curtails domestic liberties, breaks down families, and vulgarizes culture. From the Federalists who opposed the War of 1812, to the striving of Robert Taft (known as "Mr. Republican") to keep the United States out of Korea, to the latter-day libertarian critics of the Iraq war, there has historically been nothing freakish, cowardly, or even unusual about antiwar activists on the political right. And while these critics of U.S. military crusades have been vilified by the party of George W. Bush, their conservative vision of a peaceful, decentralized, and noninterventionist America gives us a glimpse of the country we could have had--and might yet attain.

Now we only have to sit back and wait for the glowing reviews from Victor Davis Hanson in National Review and perhaps, Fred Barnes in the Weakly Standard. It is being published by the American Empire Project, who should take a lesson from ISI Books and host a group blog along the lines of Reactionary Radicals.

The only catch is that we must wait until next April to get the book.

Pointless . . .

Don Surber illustrates the pitfalls of gotcha! blogging:

Much ado has been made about Fred Thompson, 64, and his "Trophy Wife," Jeri, 40. The 24-year age difference scandalized the feminists so that they have taken the vapors.

Few of them complained about the 37-year age difference in Bill Clinton, then 59, and Monica Lewinsky, 22, when they had their affair.

He's really got those feminists on the run, although he gives us no evidence that they are particularly upset about Mrs. Thompson. But Surber, apparently unaware that Google and other search engines put a mountain of data at his fingertips, has one other problem--Bill Clinton was born in August of 1946 and Monica Lewinsky was born in July of 1973; for an age difference of a bit less than 27 years. It's a large enough gap to prove his point; but since the rest of his post discusses, among other things, how the age gaps between presidents and their wives and lovers have drawn attention for two hundred years, his point is rather . . . pointless.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Land of the Smokies

Knoxville's Metro Pulse has published my review of The Land of the Smokies, from the University Press of Mississippi.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Print Lives!

This has to be the dumbest thing I've seen on the web in the last few days, and I regularly check the Corner. Jeff Gomez, who is apparently some sort of digital/techno fanatic makes the bizarre argument that if some authors are dead, then perhaps books should be as well:
This brings up an interesting point: if consumers don’t seem to care that an author is dead, which proves that they only want the content -- the characters, the stories, the experience -- then they also won’t care how that content is delivered. After all, if they don’t mind the missing presence of the actual Robert Ludlum (a living, breathing person) then they certainly won’t miss the presence of the book itself (an inanimate object). In addition, a physical book has the potential to stand in between a reader and the content they desire. This is especially true in Ludlum’s case since his books are sometimes really large, and not nearly as portable as an electronic device. For instance, the other day on the train I saw a guy gingerly reading text on his iPhone, sitting next to a girl trying valiantly to keep the new doorstop-sized Harry Potter book balanced on her knee.

My first reaction is shock and disbelief that an author who is involved in marketing for Farrar, Straus Giroux along with the other publishers affiliated with VHPS, only just discovered that people continue to read authors after they are dead -- Flannery O'Connor?, Walker Percy? . . . Shakespeare? But beyond that, the status of the author as dead or alive has nothing to do with the optimal medium for reading his or her book.

His observation of someone struggling to balance Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows compared to another's ease of reading on his cell phone strikes me as dubious. I tried a little experiment and found I could easily balance the Potter book on my knee. I also tried Remembered Past by John Lukacs, another large book, and found it easy to balance as well. My cell phone is light and small but its screen only displays about sixteen words at a time. That would require a great deal of scrolling to read a fat book or even the type of essay printed in Harper's or The New Yorker. When people only read cell phones, they won't be reading books anymore. No sane person, especially one who is an author, longs for that day.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Give till it hurts . . .

This has to be the best fundraising ploy ever. Chronicles is asking readers to donate and cover up David "Unpatriotic Conservatives" Frum's mug. Thomas Fleming writes, "To make our offer even more attractive, we are asking you to help us eliminate ugly lies from the internet. Every $500 we raise will increase the level of white-out to cover Frum’s hair, Frum’s eyes, Frum’s nose, and—best of all—Frum’s mouth. Help ChroniclesMagazine.org make the internet safe for all lovers of truth and beauty."

Monday, July 30, 2007

George W(ilson) Bush

Frequently these days, I get both discouraged and bored by the pointlessness and repetitiveness of the blogosphere and grow tired of responding to the same arguments of the war party. Thankfully, Donkey Cons co-author Robert Stacy McCain has said something new. If I understand McCain correctly, he is embracing a comparison of the Iraq quagmire and the First World War:
During and after World War I, critics insisted that President Woodrow Wilson had deceived the American people, winning re-election on a peace platform in 1916, only to push America into the war a few months later. Today's conspiracy theorists on the left -- who claim our troops are dying in Iraq because of some sinister plot between Zionists and Halliburton -- are mostly reiterating and elaborating the old "merchants of death" thesis that portrayed World War I as the secret scheme of a cabal of international bankers and armament manufacturers.

Critics claim that the war in Iraq is pointless, that U.S. military involvement there can neither discourage terrorism nor promote democracy. Yet was America ever involved in any conflict more pointless than World War I? Though the Allies won the war, they botched the peace, and the "war to end all wars" proved merely a prelude to (indeed, some would say, the essential cause of) the horrors of World War II.

. . .

Whatever false representations preceded the war in Iraq, and whether or not the U.S. presence there can bring lasting peace to that volatile region, our troops now fighting terrorist insurgents still possess the same "bold vigor" that so impressed Vera Brittain. For such incomparable warriors, the suggestion of American withdrawal still deserves the same response it got in 1918: "Retreat, hell!"

I won't even bother to argue against him. I have long believed that George W. Bush is the heir, not of Bush 41 or Ronald Reagan, but of Woodrow Wilson. McCain agrees.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Cult of the Amateur

The new issue of The American Conservative is out with my review of Andrew Keen's The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture. Given the subject matter, I hope that they make it available on the web, but here is a taste:
Keen flails wildly when he accuses bloggers on the scene during Hurricane Katrina of inflating the body count and making erroneous reports of activities at the Superdome. He doesn't cite specific examples, and it is hard to credit his version of events, since New Orleans was without power and bloggers would have had great difficulties filing firsthand reports. . .

The rest of the issue looks great as ususual with a column from Daniel Larison and an article by Michael Brendan Dougherty called "Santorum Against the World." I was also pleased to see a review of Deep Economy by Caleb Stegall, who manages to work in a great quote from Wendell Berry. "As soon as the generals and the politicos/can predict the motions of your mind,/lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn't go."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This Keeps Happening . . .

Glenn Reynolds catches Al Gore with his pants down again, or so it would seem:

IS THERE SOMETHING FISHY in Al Gore's enviro-talk? Rebecca Keeble of the International Humane Society writes:

ONLY one week after Live Earth, Al Gore's green credentials slipped while hosting his daughter's wedding in Beverly Hills.

Gore and his guests at the weekend ceremony dined on Chilean sea bass - arguably one of the world's most threatened fish species.

Also known as Patagonian toothfish, the species is under pressure from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities in the Southern Ocean, jeopardising the sustainability of remaining stocks.

This keeps happening.

I don't know what the whole story on Chilean Sea Bass is, but a nanosecond's research reveals that green grocer chain, Whole Foods stopped selling the fish in 1999 because of concerns but recently began selling it again:
Chilean sea bass is one of the most sought-after fish in the world and Whole Foods Market is delighted that the MSC has identified a sustainable fishery so that we can once again offer this delicious seafood to our customers. This fish — wild-caught at depths of up to 5,000 feet — is prized for its rich, buttery flavor and wonderful versatility that is perfect for the grill, cooking up with large white flakes. Being flash frozen at sea preserves its flavor and smooth melt-in-your-mouth texture and helps this fish stand apart in the world of seafood. Due to its high fat content, this tender white fish is nearly impossible to overcook and is best suited to dry-heat cooking methods such as broiling, grilling, and sautéing. Any number of sauces, spices, and herbs can enhance the mild, sweet flavor of this fish.
At the very least, it would seem that Reynolds allowed his obsessive hatred of Gore to color his thinking, and he's right--it does keep happening. But it isn't just Reyolds--his allies, the freepers, are also sifting through the trash at the Gore wedding.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Right the First Time . . .

Via Andrew Sullivan, Whitehouse flunkie, Sara Taylor tries to explain her "oath to the president."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

At Long Last . . .

Glenn Reynolds engages in more desparate blame shifting over the failed Iraq War. "Well, [Democrats] can vote to end it themselves. But they'll be responsible for what comes next. " This isn't true. The Democrats share in the blame, because (with a few honorable exceptions like Robert Byrd) they failed to strenuously oppose this misbegotten war. But the lion's share of the responsibility falls upon the Bush administration, the Republican party and their media/intellectual allies, including National Review, The Weekly Standard and Reynolds.

Reynolds approvingly links to a contemptable Mickey Kaus post accusing the New York Times of being in favor of "abandon[ing] Iraqis to 'genocide' just because the resulting deaths can be blamed on Bush." The Times editorial, of course, say or implies no such thing:

At first, we believed that after destroying Iraq’s government, army, police and economic structures, the United States was obliged to try to accomplish some of the goals Mr. Bush claimed to be pursuing, chiefly building a stable, unified Iraq. When it became clear that the president had neither the vision nor the means to do that, we argued against setting a withdrawal date while there was still some chance to mitigate the chaos that would most likely follow.

While Mr. Bush scorns deadlines, he kept promising breakthroughs -- after elections, after a constitution, after sending in thousands more troops. But those milestones came and went without any progress toward a stable, democratic Iraq or a path for withdrawal. It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush’s plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost.

. . .

One of Mr. Bush’s arguments against withdrawal is that it would lead to civil war. That war is raging, right now, and it may take years to burn out. Iraq may fragment into separate Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite republics, and American troops are not going to stop that from happening.

. . .

The Times' position is based on the fairly obvious reality that the U.S. can accomplish nothing more by fighting in Iraq. For the shrinking number of holdouts who continue to support the war, the need to deny the obvious is paramount. They could give Paris Hilton lessons in shamelessness.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Baaaaa! Baaaaa!

Global warming and the rock stars who oppose it, have been in the news in the last few days. Climate change is a serious issue, but I doubt that the most pressing concern is to have our collective "awareness" raised celebrities. Glen Dean has an interesting post arguing that global warming is a "hoax" and that the people who believe otherwise are just a bunch of sheep:
It always amuses me when people, who challenge my stance on the global warming hoax, tell me that I am not a scientist. Well is Madonna a scientist? Is Al Gore a scientist? Are you a scientist?
I'm no more of a scientist than Dean is. But I have been reading about global warming for the last few years, and have yet to see an article that appeals to the authority of Madonna, or of Al Gore for that matter. I don't believe that global warming is a serious issue because Gore does. If anything, my dislike of the former veep served as an impediment to admitting to the reality of warming. I have softened my view of Gore in the last few years for the obvious reason that the man who finished second to him in 2000 has been a disaster.

It would be pointless for me to try to change the mind of anyone who argues that global warming is a "hoax." People who are deeply invested in a viewpoint don't necessarily respond to arguments, or to news reports about melting permafrost, drought and wild fires; and I lack the skills and knowledge to present a convincing case on the topic.

As wrong as I think Dean is, he is a model of clarity compared compared to the other Glen, er, Glenn, on the issue. Glenn Reynolds has affected occasional concern about global warming, but his more frequent posts on the topic are of two varieties. One kind argues--with some justification--that this or that environmentalist is a hypocrite. The other breathlessly announces that it's cold somewhere! The substance of his views on the issue differ little from what one might read at NRO's Planet Gore.

UPDATE. In a later post, Dean veers into bizarre territory:
What right do these decadent charlatans, these fake environmentalists, have to tell me to change my ways? Tell me something else. Why do you "real environmentalists" not hold these people to account? Why do you direct your venom toward little folks like myself? It is like I said before. Global warming is nothing but a t-shirt. In twenty years, Gore and all of his sheep will be a laughingstock. Hopefully we'll still have a little bit of personal and economic freedom by then.

Well, even rock stars have the right of free speech. I'm not sure which "real environmentalists" favor exempting spoiled celebrities from new rules and regulations. As a fake non-environmentalist, I would favor policies that require people, rock stars and Crimson Tide fans alike, to pay the cost for their carbon emissions. The best way I can see--and I'm open to alternatives--is by way of a carbon tax. Any carbon taxes should be offset by reductions in income and payroll taxes.

Small is Beautiful

Interesting tidbit from David R. Montgomery's Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations:
One of the most persistent agricultural myths is that larger mechanized farms are more efficient and profitable than smaller traditional farms. But larger farms spend more per unit of production because they buy expensive equipment, fertilizer, and pesticides. unlike industrial enterprises in which economies of scale characterize manufacturing, smaller farms can be more efficient--even before accounting for health, environmental, and social costs. A 1989 National Research Council study flatly contradicted the bigger is more efficient myth of American agriculture. "Well-managed alternative farming systems nearly always use less synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics per unit of production than conventional farms. Reduced use of these inputs lowers production costs and lessens agriculture's potential for adverse environmental and health effects without decreasing--and in some cases increasing--per acre crop yields."

Bill McKibben made a similar point in Deep Economy.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Doofus Harry

What does Independence Day mean to you? If you are anything like "Dirty Harry" at Libertas; you don't celebrate our Independence, you celebrate the New American Century: "A country that has liberated gajillions. A country that has saved and continues to save the world."

Dirty's way of celebrating is to revel in boorish stupidity:
Today is also going to be a great day to celebrate global warming, because it’s gonna be a hot one. They’re telling us up to 109 here in the valley. Yeeks. Good thing I got me some air conditioning to go along with The Hot Little Number I Call Mrs. Harry. Now I ask you, does life get any better than a day with nothing to do, a pretty wife, a big screen television, air conditioning, and a fresh box of Wheat Thins? I am thinking not.

Think I might bar-be-cue too. Maybe something endangered. Something not given free range. Gonna cook it till it’s well-done while the air conditioning runs needlessly inside. Might blast a little country music from the car radio too. I hate country music but it just feels right today. Course, I can’t let my car battery wear down, so I’ll have to let the car idle the whole time; the car without the catalytic converter; the car with the bumper sticker that reads: If I Had A Hammer I’d Kill Folk Singers.

Wow, that'll really stick it to those Latte sipping Liberals! Being not to bright, DH reproduces a picture of a . . . Honda Accord doing a burnout. Perhaps he's spent too much time in Southern California, but here in the Real America we do our burnouts in American cars with V-8 engines. His tirade reminds me of the Backyard Totalitarians that I spoofed last year at the Reactionary Radicals blog.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Rebuild America First

Just in time for the Fourth, Rick Perlstein links to Merle Haggard:

Monday, July 02, 2007

Wendell Berry: Life and Work

I finally got a copy of Wendell Berry: Life and Work, which I have been "recommending" for the last couple of months. It looks like a great book for the serious or even casual Berry fan. It features contributions from Bills Kauffman and McKibben, Katherine Dalton, Barbara Kingsolver, Patrick Deneen, Jeremy Beer and many more. The editor, Jason Peters writes in the introduction:
All of these concerns--agrarianism, politics, religion, economics, literature--and many others are the objects of inquiry here, and the essays that treat them range from the scholarly to the personal. If I depart from the formalities of an introduction and forgo the tiresome task of summarizing each essay (and I do), I do so because each of these splendid pieces speaks clearly and elegantly enough to its topic. This collection testifies to the breadth and depth of Berry's work, and it recommends his exemplary and difficult life as an alternative to the desparation, whether quiet or noisy, of our own.

I have been lax about blogging for the last couple of weeks for a variety reasons. One gets tired occasionally engaging in the same arguments over and over again. Also, I have been at work on a couple of writing projects that will probably be published in the next few weeks. Finally, I have a new policy: Whenever Daniel Larison announces that he is on "hiatus," I actually take one.

Monday, June 25, 2007


From the July/August issue of Orion:
In the wake of George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004, frustrated liberals talked secession back to within hailing distance of the margins of national debate—a place it had not occupied since 1861. With their praise of self-rule and the devolution of power, they sounded not unlike many conservatives had in the days before Bush & Cheney & Limbaugh wedded the American Right to the American Empire.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Snippy Prissy Little Columnist

One of my Guilty pleasures is Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus column at NRO. His column yesterday was the ususal goldmine of snotty comments and pompous asides. The only thing missing is a fawning reference to his hero, Dick Cheney. For Nordlinger, Democratic candidate, John Edwards is no Cheney:
John Edwards is a prince of the Democratic party, that party’s vice-presidential nominee last time around, and a contender for president this time around. Have you been following his words, policies, and actions? Last week, he had this to say: "Today, as a result of what George Bush has done, we have more terrorists and fewer allies. There was no group called al Qaeda in Iraq before this president’s war in Iraq."

Yes, it’s true there was no group called al Qaeda in Iraq -- instead, al Qaeda was in New York, Washington, and elsewhere. And the cowboy from Texas did not invent the Qaeda threat.
. . .
Also, consider the phrase "this president's war in Iraq." Is that the way would-be presidents should talk? Does Edwards have the judgment and breadth -- or even the simple class -- to be president?

Furthermore, Edwards said this: “If Mayor Giuliani believes that what the president has done is good . . . and runs a campaign for the presidency saying ‘I will give you four more years of what this president has done,’ he’s allowed to do that. He will never be elected president, but he is allowed to do that.”

He is allowed to do that. Why, thank you, Mr. Edwards. What a snippy, prissy little . . . candidate.

So, what's wrong with the phrase, "this President's war in Iraq"? I'm not really sure, but since Nord believes that the Invasion of Iraq routed al Qaeda from New York and Washington, I'm not expecting much in the way of logic. I also don't understand his objection to the line about Giuliani, other than it is an attack on one of Nordlinger's macho-man Republicans; but if anybody has no business describing someone else as "prissy" . . .

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Frumian Correctness

David Frum, the author of "Unpatriotic Conservatives" is now saying this:

My own working theory till now has been that the anti-Klein sentiment exposes the tyrannical impulses of the American Left. Being a left-leaning journalist is not sufficient, comrade! We demand total unquestioning obedience! You are guilty of deviationism and individualism: Go practice self-criticism until you are prepared to submit to the perfect correctness of the thoughts of Chairman Kos!

Deep Economy

This week's Metro Pulse features my review of Bill McKibben's Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future:
Since World War II, the United States has grown fantastically wealthy and, consequently, Americans consume mightily, but we haven't become happier than we were a half-century ago. In fact, the trend lines are moving in the opposite direction. The author details, via numerous studies, the grim results of our explosion of prosperity. The results indicate that, beyond a point, we are less happy with more stuff. He even notes one recent study indicating that the " average American child reported now higher levels of anxiety than the average child under psychiatric care in the 1950s: our new normal is the old disturbed."

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Vanity of Human Wishes

"The liberal, old style or new style, swears by the evangels of Progress; he thinks of society as a machine for aggrandizement, and of happiness as the gratification of appetites.

The conservative, on the contrary, thinks of society as what Burke called the great mysterious incorporation of the human race, held together by tradition and custom and immemorial usage, a living spirit; and he thinks that happiness comes from duty done, and from an understanding of the vanity of human wishes."--Russell Kirk


This (via Michael Silence) is madness. Long time News Sentinel feature writer and new blogger for them, Fred Brown responded to A.C.'s now infamous "button men & pawns" post by suggesting that:
Today, our men and women in uniform are far away fighting the toughest of battles: against an urban enemy who lurks in the dark corners and . . . sends IEDs at our men and women . . .

The least we can do is to keep our traps shut and our opinions to ourselves. We owe that to the young men and women who are in Iraq fighting, whether or not you agree with what is going on . . .

I dearly believe that, although we have the inalienable right to disagree with our government, our local state and national leaders, a powerful right under provisions of our U.S. Constitution, to do so when our troops are struggling daily for their lives in extreme environments, is a disservice to our service men and women.

I can't help it. We are at war. Time for debate has passed . . . Can you disagree with the war and its management? Of course. Do it privately . . .
This is a recipe for permanent war. The notion that what we "owe" to our fellow Americans who are daily being maimed and killed is to shut up and ignore the fact that their lives, health and (sometimes) sanity are being sacrificed in a cause likely detrimental to the national interest is insane. And we can't even publicly disagree with the war's "management", so a disasterous manager like Don "the Army you have" Rumsfeld would get a free pass from public criticism. The great American Patriot, Smedley Butler, whom I've often had reason to invoke; knew from experience and observation what happened to men in war, and he choose not to remain silent:
I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men--men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital at Milwaukee . . . told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed home. Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed . . . Then suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face"! This time they had to do their own readjusting, sans mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice, sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn't need them any more . . . Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final "about face."

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Button Men

When the boss says "push a button on a guy," I push a button.--Willie Cicci, explaining his role as a Corleone family soldier in The Godfather Part II.
How did I almost miss the Middle Tennessee spat over the comments of A.C. Kleinheider about the U.S. military? Kleinheider opined, in the most controversial paragraph thusly:
Soldiers are just that -- soldiers. They are spokes on a wheel. Many, many soldiers, save those at the very top of the pyramid, are pawns. They are button men for our civilian leadership. Is this an honorable profession? Certainly. But it is also, in the end, just that -- a profession. Soldiers should be proud of their service, maybe prouder than men of any other profession, but let’s not get out of control with it.
Nothing particularly outrageous here. Apparently, however, a Nashville radio host, and a host of Tennessee bloggers took offense. I'm guessing that Terry Frank's fury is representative:
Our soldiers are not pawns. They voluntary step foward, as Col. Will Merrill III who was just in studio with us did, knowing the cost and risks of being a soldier. Often they give up wealth and comforts . . . all knowingly. They work as part of team…a team that surpasses the challenges of any sports, political or work team. They literally function together, and on many occasions, risk life and limb for their brothers and sisters in arms.
Of course, to be a soldier is the very definition of a pawn. Unknowingly, she buttresses A.C.'s point on this by talking about how they function together, you know, like spokes in a wheel. I left a comment to that effect on her blog, to which she replied that I make her "sick" and my "arrogance is disgusting." In The Boys' Crusade literary critic and World War II vet, Paul Fussell reflected on the expendable, cog, or pawn-like nature of the infantry "replacement."
If a draftee was bright, one of the first blows to his morale upon arriving at a camp for basic training must have been the message delivered by the letters R.T.C., visible everywhere. He quickly learned that they stood for Replacement Training Center. Training was clear enough, and so was Center, but Replacement? why, he wondered, were so many hundreds of thousands of drafted boys needed as replacements? For whom or what? Was the army expecting that many deaths or incapacitating wounds?

A.C. also got in a little trouble for referring the military as the "button men for our civilian leadership," a phrase that admittedly caused me to do a double take when I first read it, but isn't really so far from the truth. At its core, the purpose of the military is to kill people. That doesn't make a soldier in the Army an exact parallel to being a soldier for Tony Soprano, but its not always that far off. Smedley Butler, a two-time Medal of Honor winning Marine Major General spoke of his own service in far harsher, and more explicit, terms than Kleinheider used:
I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National city Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of Racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1909–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras "right" for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested." . . . Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three continents.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Unpatriotic Conservative Mind

I'll leave it to others more qualified, perhaps Scott Richert of Chronicles, to decide just where in the conservative canon Russell Kirk fits. But I will agree with Jonah Goldberg's correspondent:
For some time now I've wondered who, exactly, declared that Russell Kirk was a "founder" of modern American conservatism and put him in the pantheon of people who must be read by conservatives.
Kirk doesn't belong in the pantheon of the war-worshipping, centralizing, politics obsessed (one of the most appalling aspects of the Corner is the way that they immediately went from constantly posting about the '06 election to constantly posting about the '08 election) rightwing of today. I'm sure that if Kirk were still alive he would have nothing to that crowd and would have been denounced as an "Unpatriotic Conservative" by David Frum for opposing the war in Iraq. Anonymous continues:
As far as I can tell, the only reason Kirk gets much play is because ISI has a few devoted traditionalists there who like to fancy themselves devotees of an arcane conservatism that rejects modernity wholesale (a few, truth be told, are probably Catholic monarchists, or at least sympathetic to such ideas).
Catholic Monarchists at ISI! I've remarked before on the fuddie-duddies at ISI Books who insist on publishing people like Russell Kirk instead of Sean Hannity and John Bolton. I tried to talk to some ISI people about it at the conference I attended a couple of months back, but they wouldn' stop talking the Habsburgs.
UPDATE: John Miller at the Corner: "He's not in the conservative pantheon because a cabal of traditionalists at ISI somehow snuck him in when nobody was looking. He's there because conservatives of the Goldwater era put him there."

Supply and Demand

Glen Dean hits the nail on the head with his post about gas prices. I guess it's possible that consolidation of refineries may inflate the price, but the main reason that gasoline continues to go up is supply and demand. He notes some issues that lead to higher prices, including the difficulty of building new refineries. I'm not sure how he feels on the subject, but I'm glad that refineries are hard to build. They are eysores and they pollute. It is a worthwhile trade-off to have fewer refineries and higher prices.

Few issues illuminate the childish nature of American politics better than rising gas prices. Dean advises, "People stop bitching. If you don't want to pay high gas prices, drive less or buy a small car. Get over it." I would second that and add that we should consider, in exchange for cuts in payroll and income taxes, steeper taxes on gasoline. Our consumption of gasoline not only fuels global warming, at least according to crank "scientists"; it also funds dubious regimes from Venezuela to Saudi Arabia to Iran.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Axis of Idiocy

This column (via Daniel) must have been very difficult for Professor Bacevich to write:

Parents who lose children, whether through accident or illness, inevitably wonder what they could have done to prevent their loss. When my son was killed in Iraq earlier this month at age 27, I found myself pondering my responsibility for his death.

Among the hundreds of messages that my wife and I have received, two bore directly on this question. Both held me personally culpable, insisting that my public opposition to the war had provided aid and comfort to the enemy. Each said that my son's death came as a direct result of my antiwar writings.

This may seem a vile accusation to lay against a grieving father. But in fact, it has become a staple of American political discourse, repeated endlessly by those keen to allow President Bush a free hand in waging his war. By encouraging "the terrorists," opponents of the Iraq conflict increase the risk to U.S. troops. Although the First Amendment protects antiwar critics from being tried for treason, it provides no protection for the hardly less serious charge of failing to support the troops -- today's civic equivalent of dereliction of duty.

I'm so disgusted that I find it difficult to say anything constructive about the Iraq War these days. On a daily basis, American and Iraqi lives are sacrificed on the altar of George W. Bush's arrogant stupidity. I don't know what will happen after the U.S. leaves Iraq, but I can't imagine that our continued presence in that country improves its prospects in any way.

I don't blame the war's supporters generally for the cretins who wrote to Bacevich to call him a traitor after the death of his son, but you can bet that they were inspired by the Limbaugh-Malkin-Pajamas axis of idiocy.

UPDATE: "Oakleaf" at Polipundit, who seems to have turned decisively against the war in Iraq posted a link to the article. Among the classier comments is this: "He recently wrote 'I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty' which is extremely moving. The Oprahfication of America. Extremely moving!"

Friday, May 25, 2007

Stupid Anti-interventionists!

John Tabin, quotes a Jim Pinkerton column then blows his argument away:
"Blowback," as it's called, is a controversial thesis, but it does explain why Osama bin Laden goes after America and not, say, Switzerland.
This is a favorite rhetorical trope of anti-interventionists: If only we had a neutral foreign policy like Switzerland, terrorism would never have come to our shores. But it's simply not true that Switzerland has never suffered an attack by Middle Eastern terrorists. The Swiss were targeted twice in 1970 by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Everyone aboard Swissair Flight 330 was killed by a bomb in the cargo hold . . .

Granted, the PFLP is not quite the same as bin Laden; they are nominally a secular, Marxist organization, albeit one that is allied with Islamists in attacks on Israel. But the attacks on Swissair put paid to the naive notion that we can count on terrorists to leave us alone as long we leave them alone. (emphasis added)

That's tellin' 'em! Peaceful Switzerland was targeted 37 years ago by Marxist terrorists, so American policies basing troops in Saudi Arabia and maintaining an embargo on Iraq reputed to have killed hundreds of thousands have nothing to do with al Qaeda's attacks on the U.S. no matter what Osama bin Laden said about the subject. In fact, now that I think about it, some Swiss guy shot an arrow off of a kid's head a few years back--I bet the Islamofascists had something to do with that too!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Go Gamecocks!

Why can't sports writers stick with what they know? Glen Dean links to a columnist complaining about the Gamecock mascot of the University of South Carolina:
Which SEC school has the most offensive mascot? Is it Ole Miss, which still embraces its Rebel traditions, or is it Spurrier's own Gamecocks?

A gamecock is, by definition, "a rooster trained for cock fighting."

. . . Cocks possess congenital aggression toward all males of the same species, which is amplified through training and conditioning. Wagers are often made on the outcome of the matches. While not all fights are to the death, they often may result in the death of both birds."
. . .
You don't have to be a radical member of PETA to know this kind of animal cruelty should not be glorified by an athlete, much less an institution of highest learning.
. . .
In other words, USC is endorsing animal cruelty by calling themselves Gamecocks. This is ridiculous. All sorts of sports mascots make allusions to unsavory activities--the Minnesota Vikings for example--without endorsing them.

I was unaware of the Thomas Sumter connection that Dean points out, but I wasn't surprised. The best sports mascots accomplish two things: 1 sound tough 2 have some local or regional significance. In the Southeastern Conference, the Gamecocks, the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida Gators stand out. Some are not so lucky. The league has two Bulldogs and two Tigers. Dean follows the Alabama Crimson Tide, and I could never figure out what that means.

Decline and Fall

Why does anyone continue to take this man seriously; or have I just not been let in on the joke yet? The lastest column from Victor Davis Hanson would be unacceptable in remedial English 101. He purports to argue against American decline, but he doesn't make any arguments at all. Instead he chooses to string together non sequiturs:
The suicide murders and roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan sicken Americans. Soon-to-be nuclear Iran seems loonier than nuclear North Korea. American debt keeps piling up in China and Japan. And we think of angry Venezuela, the Middle East, and Russia every time we fill up -- if we can afford to fill up. Then listen to Al Gore on global warming. Or hear Jimmy Carter on the current president. The common denominator is American "decline."

Books by liberals assure us that our "empire" is kaput. Brace for the inevitable fate of Rome. Conservatives are just as glum. For them, we are also Romans -- but the more decadent variety, eaten away from the inside.

Anybody looking for evidence of the decline of America need only ask themselves: Would such an embarrassing column have been publishable fifty years ago, or even ten?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Arrogance of Power

"Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations--to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image. Power confuses itself with virtue and tends also to take itself for omnipotence." --J. William Fulbright, The Arrogance of Power

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Book Chat

I'm glad that I'm not the only one to notice a particularly ridiculous post from Kathryn Jean Lopez at the Corner:
I just did a quick flip through a Simon & Schuster catalog for the fall. Mary Matalin’s Threshold imprint looks to be really taking off. How can you not be excited by the upcoming John Bolton Surrender Is Not an Option (Amen!)? She’s also got a Lynne Cheney autobiography (our next First Lady!), What’s the Matter with California?, and a book by the Duke lacrosse coach — subtitled: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered One can’t help to be glad that she’s in the book business.

We all eagerly await the deep thoughts of Lynne Cheney and John Bolton, but I particularly note the title, Upstream: the Ascendance of American Conservatism by Al Regnery, which will be coming out when "American Conservatism" is moving downstream.

I rarely make predictions, but nobody will notice if I'm wrong, so here's one: Within a year Threshold Editions will fold and no other publishing house will snap up Mary Matalin as an editor.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

First They Came for Donny and Marie . . .

Daniel Larison catches Hugh Hewitt (once again) making an ass of himself. Hewitt whined because Peggy Noonan wrote that Fred Thompson is "sneak[ing] up from the creek and steal[ing] their underwear--boxers, briefs and temple garments . . ."

For Hewitt, who carries a torch for the Mormon Mitt Romney, this is an example of unacceptable bigotry: "If an orthodox Jew was in the running, would Peggy have added 'yarmulke?'"

I'll leave the serious analysis of Hewitt's latest idiocy and second his question: "Where on the body exactly does Hewitt think yarmulkes are worn?" On second thought, I don't want to know.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Heck of a Job, Zinsie!

The New Republic has an interesting article on Karl Zinsmeister, who would go from being the editor of the now defunct American Enterprise to being a domestic policy advisor to George W. Bush.

According to TNR, Zinsmeister ran TAE in a somewhat Bushian fashion, being both controlling and detached. He was also, it seems, a bit shady, using TAE to push his books, particularly Dawn Over Baghdad as subscription premiums, even when they didn't work very well.

At first, these mailings offered multiple options for subscribing, some of which included a Zinsmeister book, some of which did not. The magazine's then-business manager, Garth Cadiz, says that the offers without Zinsmeister's books invariably received better response rates. Yet, in June 2005, Zinsmeister eliminated the option to get a subscription through direct mail without buying one of his books as well. The move was a flop, according to Cadiz. Around that time, subscriptions, which had been climbing for years, began falling. . . . Zinsmeister also printed ads for his books free of charge in the magazine. In 2004, Zinsmeister wrote an e-mail to his editors concerning Dawn Over Baghdad: "I have promised Encounter [his publisher] we will run Dawn ads in TAE for the indefinite future in return for them paying for some of the media interview travel. . . . " According to a former AEI employee, it was widely known at the think tank that "Karl was in it for Karl," and his use of the magazine to promote his own books was "sort of like a running joke." The books were shipped to Zinsmeister's home in Cazenovia and mailed to subscribers from there. Over three years, according to an e-mail David Gerson would later send to Zinsmeister after he had announced his plans to step down, AEI purchased 13,700 Zinsmeister books at a cost of $131,000. And what a gift that proved to be for Zinsmeister, as AEI's purchases wound up accounting for 45 percent of the total sales of Dawn Over Baghdad's hardcover edition--and more than half its paperback sales.

I wrote for TAE several times, but never had any contact with Zinsmeister. My last review for them was killed although nobody ever told me why--I just received a kill fee in the mail. At about the same time, The American Conservative also killed one of my reviews but they had a good reason and they handled it in a classy fashion, unlike TAE.

Zinsmeister's style at TAE makes him a pretty good fit for Bush, as the TNR article notes,
"like the president he now serves, Zinsmeister long ago mastered the trick of railing against Washington while arrogating to himself as much of the city's power and privilege as he could grab."