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.