Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dr. Percy's South

I have been reading some of the comments on Jeffrey Hart's essay in the Wall Street Journal about conservatism. A line about how the shift in the base of strengh to the Sun Belt South and West has had a negative effect "with respect to prudence, education, intellect and high culture." has generated controversy in National Review's The Corner and other places. Matt Yglesias would seem to have a point arguing:
Can anyone seriously dispute that the vast majority of America's premiere institutions of education and high culture are located in the "blue" areas? That's not to say the South is some kind of total wasteland -- I visited the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum earlier this year and it's first-rate, albeit a bit small -- but on the whole this stuff is primarily in the Northeast and to a lesser extent on the Pacific coast. At the same time, these institutions used to be bastions of conservatism and now -- as conservatives are wont to complain -- go the other way politically.

But there is another way of looking at it. Which state has made the greater contribution to American culture in the last one hundred years -- Mississippi or Connecticut? I would imagine that most people would conclude that poor, benighted, Yaleless, Mississippi would win the contest. What is the Nutmeg state's answer to Faulkner, Eudora Welty or Marty Stuart?

Walker Percy addressed this apparant contradiction -- at least as itconcerns writers -- in his "Self Interview" pubished in Esquire and reprinted in Signposts in a Strange Land:
Well, I've heard about that, the storytelling tradition, sense of identity, tragic dimension, community, history, and so forth. But I was never quite sure what that meant. In fact, I'm not sure that the opposite is not the case. People don't read much in the South and don't take writers very seriously, which is probably as it should be. I've managed to live [in Covington, La.] for thirty years and am less well known than the Budweiser distributor. The only famous person in this town is Isiah Robertson, Linebacker for the Rams, and that is probably as it should be too. . .

I have a theory of why Faulkner became such a great writer. It was not the presence of a tradition and all that, as one generally hears, but the absence. Everybody in Oxford, Mississippi, knew who Faulkner was, not because he was a great writer, but because he was a local character, a little-bitty fellow who put on airs, wore a handkerchief up his sleeve, a ne'er-do-well . . . One of the nice things about living an obscure life in the South is that people don't come up to you, press your hand and give you soulful looks.

Ten years ago, when I was living outside of the South, I would probably have been offended by Hart's and Yglesias' assertions about my native region. These days I'm not so sure that they are wrong -- Jeff Foxworthy has made a mint spoofing Southern redneck culture -- but I still prefer to live here. I spent seven years in Port Townsend, Washington. It is a wonderful place and I miss living there sometimes, but it was the opposite of the type of community that Percy describes. It is larded with creative types -- I was once the only person at a party who didn't at least claim to be an "artist" or "poet." Some of them actually create.

Monday, December 19, 2005

You Could Look It Up In Toynbee . . .

Roger Kahn remembers Gene McCarthy's presidential announcement in 1967.

Sign of the Times . . .

The latest issues of The American Conservative and Mother Jones are out with cover articles by the sam person. In TAC Robert Dreyfuss reports on neocon plans for Syria. In MJ he profiles North Carolina Congressman Walter B. Jones of "Freedom Fries" fame who has now turned against the war. That latter article has high praise for Jones in the form of a quote by the cretinous Christopher Hitchens that Jones is a "moral and political cretin."

Politics, and George W. Bush, makes strange bedfellows.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

An Army of Slackers

You don't need incredibly high standards to be a right-wing media critic. Note this post endorsed by the Eisenhower in the Army of Davids. The poster, identified only by a photo of an unshaven slacker (not that there's anything wrong with that) and the cutesie name "The Only Republican in San Francisco." Our slacker/journalist reports:

If you read my site, well, you are in a very small minority but you also are aware of how little regard I had for mainstream media reports of Katrina. Among the many outrages were the reports of crimes and deaths that simply didn't happen.

The LA Times now reports that the deaths in NO were not disproportionately among the poor. The storm, and the response, did not discriminate.

Add this to the fact that black folks died in proportionally smaller numbers than whites. Quick stats are that black folks comprised 67% of the population but represented 59% of those who passed. White folks comprised 28% of the population but represented 36% of the deaths.

Everything you read about Katrina was wrong, and was, sorry, racist. An enormous amount of PR damage was done to the US, and race tensions were fanned without any factual basis. Will the MSM address this?

Note what his post doesn't say. He implies that the "MSM" reported that blacks died disproportionately when New Orleans was flooded, but he doesn't cite, or link to, any inaccurate report from a media source making that claim. In fact, he cites Los Angeles Times reporting to help his case. Note his closing question. If he had bothered to read his own post, he would see that the "MSM" is addressing it.

This "Pajamas Media"post makes a similar claim with the same failing. It links to several blog posts that say little or nothing of substance and two "MSM" stories based on actual reporting.

I have been skeptical of the media all of my adult life but I have gained new respect for them in the last few years. I am glad we have alternative sources of information both in print and on the web, but this will never replace this.

UPDATE: San Fran's lone Republican replies to my criticism of his vagueness with a vague reference to the Economist's "Shaming of America" cover. But cover relates to their Leader (Britspeak for editorial). I didn't see any wild claims, now debunked, in one Katrina related article on the web from that issue.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Free Vermont!

I tried to imagine the pro-torture, war-worshipping neocons at National Review running an article like Bill Kauffman's Free Vermont in The American Conservative, but I just couldn't:
Organizers billed the Vermont Independence Convention of Oct. 28 as "the first statewide convention on secession in the United States since North Carolina voted to secede from the Union on May 20, 1861." North Carolina, the final state to join the Confederacy, overcame its unionist scruples with some reluctance; by contrast, the 250 or so Vermonters gathered in Montpelier, that coziest of state capitals, gloried in the prospect of disunion.

Montpelier is the only McDonald's-less state capital in the land, and from its late October splendor issued a Jeffersonian firebell in the night, ringing a warning to the national capital: the United States deserve a break(up) today.

Only in Vermont, with its town-meeting tradition and tolerance of radical dissent, would the golden-domed State Capitol be given over to a convention exploring the whys and wherefores of splitting from the United States. And all for a rental fee of $35! (It would have been free if the disunionists had knocked off by 4 p.m.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Tis the Season . . .

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It's Christmastime and you know what that means: celebrating the birth of Jesus, greedy children and crowded malls. Oh, and the newly traditional "War on Christmas" battles. I think I will sit out the fight this year. I am still disgusted by Orwellian Newspeak terms such as "holiday tree" used by corporate and government bureaucrats horrified at the possibility of giving offense to anyone outside of the majority culture.
However, I grow weary of using war metaphors when the country is still fighting a real war. And when Christmas becomes just another front in the Culture Wars, I want nothing to do with it.
The best response to people such as Ruth Marcus, who wrote in the Washington Post that "this is the time of year, though, when those of us who aren't Christian, or who don't celebrate Christmas, most feel our minority status" (other than to point out that no law constrains her from putting up a tree, wrapping some presents and watching A Christmas Story); came from Michael Kinsley, commenting on the ACLU's anti-creche fundamentalism in the eighties:
"On a practical level," the ACLU writes, "a child whose family does not believe in the Divinity of Christ must view the public creche as a symbolic representation of his or her status as an outsider. The child will question . . . his identification with the American culture."

I think that's right. But I also think this child had better learn early on to question his identification with the American culture, because it's a tough question that will follow him all his life no matter how successful the ACLU is in banning nativity scenes. There is a majority culture in this country. It is Christian, white, middle-class. Jews and nonbelievers (I am both) are outsiders to some extent in that culture. So are blacks, homosexuals, Orientials, and so on. This is so even though we are a society that is constantly remaking itself, and a society committed to protecting civil rights and economic opportunities for minorities. The battle for minority rights goes on, of course, but does final victory require the eradication of the majority culture? And is every manifestation of that culture an insult to those who aren't fully a part of it?

People who want to go through life with nothing to remind them of their minority status ask too much. They will not get it, and full civil equality does not require it. Furthermore, in the name of ethnic or religious or racial or sexual awareness, they would impose a vast unawareness of national life in which, for official purposes, most Americans are of no particular race or religion(or equally divided among all) . . .

Far from being a handicap, a sense of "outsideness" can be a great asset in a society that does, in the end, try to protect the rights of cultural outsiders. It energizes, promotes skepticism, gives perspective. . . I am happy to be a bit of an outsider in my own country. I am no less American for it, and may even hope to be a better one as a result.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Numerous websites that I link to have already noted the passing of Liberty magazine's founding editor, RW (Bill) Bradford. Like Brian Doherty and Jesse Walker, Bradford gave me my first job in journalism. He encouraged and was a genuine fan of my writing. I discovered his magazine in 1989 and I have been involved with it since 1993. It has never had a party line and it is open enough to have published Murray Rothbard, Michelle Malkin(!), Bill Kauffman (even praising Robert Byrd once), Peter McWilliams and Ron Paul.

Some of the comments on Jesse's post indicate that Bradford provokes strong reactions both negative and positive, which is not surprising. He was brilliant and demanding, and he was often difficult to work for. He had a hard time dealing with a staff of more than two or three people at a time. As a result, several people left on bad terms with Bill. However, those I have been in contact with recently have many postive memories, amidst those of conflict, of their time at Liberty. I know I learned a great deal and had a lot of fun while I was there. And I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

God Only Knows . . .

If I understand Roger Simon correctly (and God only knows what is going home in his head) the reporting of the American "reactionary media" of the almost daily terrorist attacks in Iraq does more to harm attitudes in that country than the terrorist attacks themselves.

P.S.: One doesn't have to wait very long for the inane comments from Simon's readers like this one from David Thomson. "There are about twenty seven million people living in Iraq. The terrorists are able to murder far less than one percent of the general population. Obviously, these thugs are slowing down the rebuilding project---but still life goes on." Wow, only one per cent. Of course, one per cent of the United States is about three million people.

Monday, December 05, 2005

In Defense of Dubya

No, he is not the worst president ever, but he still has three years.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Arc

Michael Kinsley on the arc of Conservative Washington:

On the other hand, you can now trace the traditional moral arc in the life of conservative-dominated Washington itself, which began with Ronald Reagan's inauguration and marks its 25th anniversary in January. Reagan and company arrived to tear down the government and make Washington irrelevant. Now the airport and a giant warehouse of bureaucrats are named after him. By the 20th anniversary of their arrival, when an intellectually corrupt Supreme Court ruling gave them complete control of the government at last, the conservatives had lost any stomach for tearing down the government. George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" was more like an apology than an ideology. Meanwhile Tom DeLay--the real boss in Congress--openly warned K Street that unless all the choice lobbying jobs went to Republicans, lobbyists could not expect to have any influence with the Republican Congress.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Liberty has put my review of Ann Coulter's Slander on the web:

In her zeal to display the flaws of Al Gore, Coulter ridicules his performance in the 2000 debates.

"In the first debate, he was his natural self -- little Miss-Know-It-All . . . In the second debate he overcompensated and became Norman Bates in the last scene of Psycho . . . Naturally, therefore, the entire nation was on tenterhooks waiting to see what new weirdness Gore would unleash in the third debate. . . Even the audience was laughing at Gore for his ridiculous pomposity. Bush was in on the joke, laughing and winking at audience members as Gore grew increasingly insufferable. "

All of which accords, roughly at least, with my memory of the debates, but begs a question that doesn't occur to Coulter: if Al Gore was such a complete laughingstock -- a universally mocked buffoon -- how did he manage to win the popular vote in the 2000 election? Without the timely intercession of Ralph Nader, Al Gore would have won a solid victory. The debates gave voters an unfiltered opportunity to view the candidates. One would assume from Coulter's analysis that Gore would have received only the votes of New York Times editors and of Barbara Streisand's sewing circle, instead of finishing ahead of her champion.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Time to Go

Michael Kinsley takes apart the arguments of Dick Cheney:

We are now very close to that point of general agreement in the Iraq war. Do you believe that if Bush,Cheney, and company could turn back the clock, they would do this again? And now, thanks to Rep. John Murtha, it is permissible to say, or at least to ask, "Why not just get out now? Or at least soon, on a fixed schedule?" There are arguments against this--some good, some bad--but the worst is the one delivered by Cheney and others with their most withering scorn. It is the argument that it is wrong to tell American soldiers risking their lives in a foreign desert that they are fighting for a mistake.

One strength of this argument is that it doesn't require defending the war itself. The logic applies equally whether the war is justified or not. Another strength is that the argument is true, in a way: It is a terrible thing to tell someone he or she is risking death in a mistaken cause. But it is more terrible actually to die in that mistaken cause.

On a related matter, Glenn Reynolds is flogging the notion that the Iraq War is a "reverse Vietnam" in the sense that we are getting more positive reports from troops on the ground than we are from the media. Ironically he buttresses his argument with a link to a Christian Science Monitor article. The Monitor report has lots of heartwarming stories involving cute little girls and kindly old gentlemen in Iraq. What the positive reports from the troops fail to do is counter the notion that Iraq is a country coming apart at the seams due to terrorism, and religious and ethnic strife; or that the US occupation is pouring fuel on the fire instead of putting it out.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Good Word For Hate

"After the lunch conference I run into my cousin Nell Lovell on the steps of the Library -- where I go occasionally to read liberal and conservative periodicals. Whenever I feel bad, I go to the library to read controversial periodicals. Though I do not know whether I am a liberal or a conservative, I am nevertheless enlivened by the hatred which one bears the other. In fact, this hatred strikes me as one of the few signs of life remaining in the world. This is another thing about the world which is upsidedown: all the friendly and likable people seem dead to me; only the haters seem alive."
-- Binx Bolling, The Moviegoer

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cretinous Republic

In case anybody has any questions, the Free Republic is still populated by cretinous half-wits, including several who think that Congressman John Murtha is in the Senate, or "Seante."

To: Gargantua

There's old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots. The Seante needs to be outsourced.

3 posted on 11/20/2005 4:10:35 AM PST by Paladin2 (If the political indictment's from Fitz, the jury always acquits.) . . .

. . . I do appreciate Murtha's service to his country, but that gives no one the right to speak against our Commander and Chief.
6 posted on 11/20/2005 4:26:00 AM PST by parthian shot . . .

To: Gargantua

Divide and conquer , The only weapon the commies have found that works for them . The radical left and the aclu are driving the wedge , Murtha is just another one of the pawns , it has nothing to do with losing his nerve . His children and grandchildren would look good in berkas , just ask him .

34 posted on 11/20/2005 6:11:58 AM PST by lionheart 247365 (( I.S.L.A.M. stands for - Islams Spiritual Leaders Advocate Murder .. .. .. )) . . .

And so forth.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Caviar Consumption Through The Roof!

Supply Side High Priest, Larry Kudlow sees a positive economic trend in the continued support of the yacht industry by the rich. No need to worry about those problems at GM and Delphi when Biff just bought a new Bertram. I eagerly await Kudlow's report on the growth in caviar sales.

In the same column, Kudlow predicts a rise in G.W. Bush's stock, in part because "after another successful election in Iraq next month, at least 35,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn in 2006." Right. The Next Election is always the one that will make all the difference.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Jonah "lying is groovy" Goldberg sees one line of defense crumbling, so he is laying the ground to retreat. "What if Bush did lie, big time? What, exactly, would that mean? If you listen to Bush's critics, serious and moonbat alike, the answer is obvious: He'd be a criminal warmonger, a failed president and -- most certainly -- impeachment fodder."

He is planning this retreat presumably because the argument that the Democrats bought into the lie as well doesn't have sufficient resonance. I predict that the next line of defense will be "I hardly even knew that Bush guy."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Andrew Leigh on the forthcoming "Pajamas Media" in NRO: "More than that, however, Johnson and Simon consider the entire blogosphere their fact-checkers. This is a sacred tenet among many bloggers. If a blogger makes a mistake, readers will call him on it right away, either via comment or email. And the blogger is honor-bound to correct it immediately and clearly."

My response: Baloney!

Top Ten List

I added my top ten film list here. The Godfather made the top spot. You will have to click to see the other 19 since I cheated and added ten more after my top ten. Even after that, I still thought of other movies that I might have added.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Success Magazine

Scott McConnell in the latest issue of the American Conservative, suggests that the Weekly Standard is the most successful political magazine ever because of its role in getting the country into a war in Iraq. The article put the question in my head of the equivalent of success for the American Conservative when it is ten years old.

Perhaps it would be Republican nominee Jimmy Duncan crossing party lines to select New York Senator, Bill Kauffman as his running mate in 2012 . . .

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Jonathan Chait explores(registration) the pitfalls of being a political switcher. The best part is about Christopher Hitchens:
Anticipating these shifts in the zeitgeist is not so easy. After 9/11, writer Christopher Hitchens, the left-wing demagogue turned right-wing demagogue, transferred his allegiance to the GOP. In those heady days of moral clarity, Hitchens' old allies were on the defensive, and Bush allies were riding high. He seemed to be having a grand time excoriating Islamo-fascists and waxing eloquent about the plight of the Kurds.

Yet, in retrospect, Hitchens made the mistake of buying into the GOP not when it was at low tide, as the neoconservatives had done, but at the peak of its popularity. Things have not gone so well recently, and now he's stuck with less romantic assignments: defending the innocence of Karl Rove, insisting the invasion of Iraq was not really bungled beyond repair and gamely pointing out that we're torturing far fewer people than Saddam Hussein ever did. Hitchens seems to be having less fun these days. On the plus side, at least he still has a job.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Stephen Green, the "Winecooler Pundit" suggests googlenewsing the words "Radioactive+Iraq" to see how big a threat Saddam was, but the first story to come up is about American soldiers getting sick from depleted uranium shells. Ours:

Wearing buttons that say "no depleted uranium weapons," veterans and their supporters gathered in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs Thursday to say not enough is being done to treat soldiers who have depleted uranium, or DU, in their bodies.

"It just feels like my bones are hurting all the time," said Iraq War veteran Herbert Reed. "I am constantly fatigued. I still have the blood in my urine and my stool."

DU is a slightly radioactive heavy metal left over in the process of creating nuclear fuel. The military uses it in missiles and tanks to make them stronger. But when it's hit or explodes, soldiers can get wounded by radioactive shrapnel or breathe in radioactive particles.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ten Good Movies

In the spirit of this collection of ten best film lists that I was inexplicably not invited to contribute to; here is a list of films. They are not neccessarily my choices for the ten best or even my ten favorites. Just ten good movies. They are presented in reverse chronological order:
  1. Hell's Angels (Howard Hughes, 1930) has a conventional, but well done story line about two brothers -- one courageous and honorable, the other not so much -- who join the RAF to fight in the Great War. What sets the film apart are the stunning visual effects. There are no strings on the airplanes in this movie. Everything looks real. Jean Harlow utters a line so famous that few even know that it came rom a movie. "Would you be shocked if I slipped into something more comfortable.
  2. Dinner at Eight (George Cukor, 1933) features a great ensemble cast including John & Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler and Harlow. Invited guests to a fancy dinner party are variously going broke, dying (and worse), cheating on their spouses and involved in crooked business deals.
  3. Libeled Lady(Jack Conway, 1936). This may be the best film to star William Powell and Myrna Loy. Powell plays a caddish newspaperman sent out to capture Loy in a comprimising position and deflate her lawsuit against his newspaper. A good film is made great by the electricity between the two stars.
  4. The Women(George Cukor, 1939) depicts the fairer sex as scheming, conniving, backbiting, catty and vicious. In other words, it tells the truth. Just kidding.
  5. I Love You Again (W.S. Van Dyke, 1940). This is another great Powell/Loy vehicle. The totally plausible storyline is that Powell is a wise-cracking, hard drinking con man who becomes a nerd after a blow to his head gives him amnesia. Another blow causes him to snap out of it and he hatches a scheme to back to the hick town where he has lived as a nerd and bleed it dry. His plans change when he falls for the nerd's wife, played by Loy, who was planning to divorce the nerd, but falls for the con man. It is very confusing to describe, but makes perfect sense on film.
  6. To Have and Have Not(Howard Hawks, 1944) has a plot similar to Casablanca. My theory is that Bogie let Ingrid Bergman go at the end of Casablanca is that he knew that Lauren Bacall would be coming along in a couple of years. Smart Move.
  7. Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1962) isn't particularly faithful to the novel of the same name, but it is still a great film. The acting by all of the main characters is great. Shelley Winters gives one of the all time great performances as "the Haze woman . . . the fat cow. . . the obnoxious mama . . ."
  8. The Godfather, Part III(Francis Ford Coppola, 1990). This one gets a bad rap, but Andy Garcia is great and I love the weaseley and corrupt archbishop. The best visual image from the Godfather Trilogy might just be the sight of his body falling down the center of a spiral staircase in the Vatican after Al Neri whacks him.
  9. Donnie Brasco (Mike Newell, 1997). Al Pacino was great as Michael Coreleone but he shines as a wiseguy with self esteem issues in this picture. It is hard to believe that the Johnny Depp in this film is the same as the one from Edward Scissorhands or Pirates of the Carribean, but he is.
  10. Lost In Translation (Sophia Coppola, 2003). Great pairing of Bill Murray as a perpetually exhausted actor in Tokyo to film a commercial and Scarlett Johansson as the neglected wife of a chinless, whiny photographer.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hail, Hail Fredonia!

Jesse Walker grievously insults the fictional character, Rufus T. Firefly by comparing his sober and mature war leadership to the clowns currently occupying the Whitehouse. For those out of the loop; Firefly -- played by Groucho Marx in Duck Soup -- was the president of Fredonia who invaded neighboring Sylvania when that country's ambassador refered to Firefly as an "upstart." Not only did he have a sounder basis for taking the country to war, but he found a better defense minister than Rumsfeld by hiring a peanut vendor outside of his window.

You decide who makes the best leader:
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Friday, November 04, 2005

Special Counsel

I saw this column by Cal Thomas in today's Knoxville News Sentinel (their version not on the web). He makes a novel argument against Patrick Fitzgerald:

Now comes a different independent counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald. In the run-up to Friday's announcement of a five-count indictment against Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, for obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements, we get from the big media that Fitzgerald is an apolitical straight-shooter who is the definition of integrity. Translation: Everything he alleges about Libby must be true.
Since the Independent Counsel Law was birthed in 1978 in response to the Watergate scandal, there have been scores of investigations, but few convictions of those indicted. It has cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Most of those indicted were either acquitted, won appeals judgments, plea-bargained to lesser charges, or were pardoned by the presidents they served . . .

Enough Democrats and Republicans have been forced to run this gauntlet that perhaps a truly bipartisan solution can be found to end it. That Libby's indictments are not about policy, but about who remembers what and when, ought to be the final straw in this ridiculous process.

Perhaps Thomas has been in a coma for several years -- that would explain alot -- but the Independent counsel law actually expired in 1999. He also is in error in claiming that Ken Starr was appointed by Janet Reno. Such counsels were appointed by a panel of judges. On the other hand, Patrick Fitzgerald is a special counsel appointed by the Justice Department.

Cal Thomas gets one thing right -- it is all a matter of who's ox is being gored. "During the Clinton presidency, Democrat partisans James Carville and Paul Begala slandered Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr as a sex maniac with a political agenda . . ." I'm sure that anyone willing to do the tedious research will discover that Thomas and others on the right denounced the investigations of the Reagan administration while they generally cheered those of the Clintons; and that the Democrats did the reverse.

Effective Servants

Glenn Reynolds linked to an editorial from Investor's Business Daily that listed Tom Delay as one of the Republicans "who are guilty of nothing more than being loyal and effective servants of their party and president" I wonder if this general in the Army of Davids will link to an article in Friday's New York Times detailing some of DeLay's methods of being an "effective servant:"

Representative Tom DeLay asked the lobbyist Jack Abramoff to raise money for him through a private charity controlled by Mr. Abramoff, an unusual request that led the lobbyist to try to gather at least $150,000 from his Indian tribe clients and their gambling operations, according to newly disclosed e-mail from the lobbyist's files.

The electronic messages from 2002, which refer to "Tom" and "Tom's requests," appear to be the clearest evidence to date of an effort by Mr. DeLay, a Texas Republican, to pressure Mr. Abramoff and his lobbying partners to raise money for him. The e-mail messages do not specify why Mr. DeLay wanted the money, how it was to be used or why he would want money raised through the auspices of a private charity.

"Did you get the message from the guys that Tom wants us to raise some bucks from Capital Athletic Foundation?" Mr. Abramoff asked a colleague in a message on June 6, 2002, referring to the charity. "I have six clients in for $25K. I recommend we hit everyone who cares about Tom's requests. I have another few to hit still."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Marlboro Senator

The November 7 issue of National Review, the right's answer to Us Weekly, is out with a fawning profile of Virginia senator George Allen Jr. Lowry cloaks Allen (the son the late NFL coach) with the macho garb necessary for Republicans to compete in the age of Dubya:
Allen is the Senate's foremost expert in a certain kind of guyness. He will pour good-natured scorn on any softness. "with cream in it?" he asks incredulously in a CNN green room. "That's not real coffee." His brother Gregory is a psychologist, and recently made a reference to the TV show 24, which Allen says was lost on him. As is any other program "not of Fox, CNN, or ESPN." . . .

Allen has benchmarks for whether he will instantly find someone compatible or not. If he likes NASCAR is one, and "if his driver is Earnhardt Jr., that's someone I agree with." . . . If he is a rough-and-tumble Oakland Raiders fan, that's another good indicator. If he is a Harley-Davidson rider, that's still another. These are all signs, as Allen puts it, of, "good, individualistic, non-conformist minds."

I hate "guyness," a sort of vicarious masculinity derived from passive activities such as viewing professional sports. Rich Lowry, on the other hand, has such low standards that he swoons over a Republican politican man enough to take his coffee black. Allen's other announced tastes have the feel of focus group testing. Sure, Harleys are cool, but riding one is no more indicative of a "non-conformist" mind than riding the bus. I would give Allen credit if he chose as his favorite NASCAR driver a Virginian such as Elliot Sadler or Ricky Rudd. Choosing Dale Earnhardt Jr. makes it look as if an aide suggested him after a few minutes of research.

One would think that after five years of President Bush -- who at least has to occasionally clear some brush to look macho -- that even the guys at NR would be looking for a change. Does George Allen consider evidence, or just rely on his "gut." Does he ever read sissy newspapers or magazines? We don't find out from Lowry, who is too taken by George Allen's love of chewing tobacco to ask.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Lion of Hollywood

The November 7 issue of The American Conservative is out on newsstands with my review of Lion of Hollywood : The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer by Scott Eyman. It isn't likely to be posted on the web so I will post a brief sample:

For its first two decades, MGM was the dominant studio, consistently making money and earning Oscar nominations. Eyman notes “in the 1930s, MGM came to symbolize an alternate reality from the drabness and squalor of the worldwide Depression, an escape into a dreamworld of Park Avenue swells . . . For audiences at home and abroad, MGM was Hollywood at its most Hollywood in the best sense of the word.” Grand Hotel(1932) and Dinner at Eight (1933) are quintessential MGM films. Both feature John and Lionel Barrymore and Wallace Beery. The former includes Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford; to the latter add Jean Harlow and Marie Dressler. Both feature numerous interlocking stories involving rich and beautiful people. It was on the basis of such films that Mayer built his studio. He didn’t get directly involved in the creative process, but he did make sure to preserve the proper appearance of his films.If a script called for a woman to be rising from bed, Mayer still wanted her to look fabulous. Glamour trumped reality. Jean Harlow first appears in Dinner at Eight sitting up in bed wearing a gown that she might have worn to the Oscars.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Not A Parody

The little coupon that came with a fundraising letter from the Cato Institute has a circle to fill in which reads "I have contributed $100 or more. Please send me "Voices of Liberty," a CD of inspiring Cato speeches, including presentations by today's great champions of liberty -- Milton Friedman, Catherine Crier, P.J. O'Rourke and Dinesh D'Souza."

Dinesh D'Souza? They might have at least included Gene Healy.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Harriet's Homework

Is it to late to get Bernie Kerik? The New York Times: "The Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers suffered another setback on Wednesday when the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked her to resubmit parts of her judicial questionnaire, saying various members had found her responses 'inadequate,' 'insufficient' and 'insulting.'"

Calling Dr. Phil . . .

I rarely bother to read Larry Elder (forgive my cultural elitism, but he's a day time talk show host for crying out loud) but a passage in this column about the rise in rudeness, which is apparently purely a matter of liberals and Democrats saying mean things about George Bush, stands out. Elder writes, " . . . A couple of anti-war Democrats and I began talking politics. While I disagreed with their positions, they made sensible, if unpersuasive, arguments. You know the drill: Bush built a case for war on bad intelligence; the cultural complexity of Iraq makes America's "imposition" of a democracy unlikely; the Iraq War now serves as a breeding ground for terrorists . . ."

I can't think of any weaker arguments. Obviously, the administration had rock solid intelligence; Iraq's cohesive civic culture will make it another Switzerland and the dearth of terrorism in that country is a blessing. Now, I wonder if Dr. Phil has any thoughts on the issue.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Poddy is NUTS

John Podheretz shows is what happens when higher brain functions shut down:
Yes, he signed No Child Left Behind. Yes, he signed campaign-finance reform. Yes, he supports an immigration-reform proposal that some say features amnesty. But let's not miss the major fact. Anyone who cuts taxes by nearly $2 trillion is a CONSERVATIVE. Anyone who is willing to pursue an aggressive foreign policy without the support of the liberal elite is a CONSERVATIVE. And anyone who has appointed as many conservative jurists as Bush is a CONSERVATIVE.

You can fling open the borders and take over the public schools so long as you cut taxes and put perpetual war on a credit card. Now I get it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Republicans run the show in Washington these days, but they still aren't happy. William Kristol and Jeffrey Bell whine in the Weakly, Standard that conservatives are being "criminalized." "THE MOST EFFECTIVE CONSERVATIVE LEGISLATOR of--oh--the last century or so, Congressman Tom DeLay, was indicted last month for allegedly violating Texas campaign finance laws, . . . Bill Frist, is under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for his sale of stock in the medical company his family started. White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby have been under investigation by a special federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, for more than two years . . . It now seems clear that Rove and Libby are the main targets of the prosecutor, and that both are in imminent danger of indictment."

They are all under investigation according to Kristol and Bell because of their effectiveness as conservative leaders. "Since 2001, they have been among the most prominent promoters of the conservative agenda of the Bush administration." This is plausible in the Delay case, since his case grows out his scheme to redistrict Texas for the benefit of Republicans. But Frist? If there is any conspiracy involving his investigation, wouldn't it be of conservatives trying to get rid of an incompetent hack?

Rove and Libby are being investigated for illegally leaking so Kristol/Bell complain about the leaking of others at CIA and the State Dept. without making a specific charges. If K/B know of any crimes they should alert the proper authorities. But they are just engaging in partisan special pleading.

The article is notable for the name that it doesn't mention -- Jack Abramoff. Abramoff is a prominent conservative under indictment and facing more investigations. An article by Michael Crowley in the Oct. 17 issue of The New Republic argues that it will be the Abramoff connection that does Delay in. "Unfortunately for DeLay and loyal optimists around him, the real threat to his career doesn't lie with the Earle indictment. It lies with the ongoing Justice Department and House ethics committee investigations of DeLay's super-lobbyist buddy Jack Abramoff . . . [the] Justice Department investigators are keenly interested in DeLay's personal role in the Abramoff Saga . . ."

Apparently the notion that Republicans and conservatives, who came to power in congress promising reform, have simply become corrupted by both their power and their desire to hold on to it is unthinkable. Instead Kristol and Bell suggest that "it's a reasonable bet that the fall of 2005 will be remembered as a time when it became clear that a comprehensive strategy of criminalization had been implemented to inflict defeat on conservatives who seek to govern as conservatives. And it is clear that thinking through a response to this challenge is a task conservatives can no longer postpone."

I think that it's a reasonable bet that the fall of '05 will be rembered as the time when the chickens of Republican sleaze came home to roost just the way it did for the Democrats in the early 1990s.

Reverse Snobbery

I haven't seen Michael Kinsley weigh in on the "elitism" angle of the cat fight amongst conservatives over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, but I hope that he does. It reached a new high, or perhaps low, yesterday when Jonah Goldberg posted the credentials of Hugh Hewitt:
Hewitt graduated from Harvard College cum laude with a degree in Government in 1978. He was Order of the Coif at the University of Michigan Law School and received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 1983, magna cum laude. Hewitt clerked for Judges Roger Robb and George MacKinnon on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1983-84, and then went on to serve as Special Assistant to Attorneys General William French Smith and Edwin Meese, Assistant Counsel in the White House Counsel's Office, General Counsel for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, where he finished his career in the Reagan Administration as Deputy Director of the agency, having been confirmed by a voice vote in the Senate . . .

Goldberg added, "Ah yes, those Harvard alum, Coif-ordered, presidential library-building, appeals court clerking, Justice Department working, . . . men of the people really have us National Review aristocrats dead to rights." Hewitt replied saying that "an Ohio-born and raised Cleveland Indians and Browns fan cannot be an elitist. Further, my argument has been with the Bos-Wash Axis of Elitism, and not an argument about snobbery."

Actually, Hewitt is engaging in reverse snobbery. He's just a regular guy, working stiff from Cleveland -- a Browns fan. Ignore Harvard etc. Republicans and conservatives have been engaging in this with a great deal of political success in recent years. Remember all that stuff from last year about how the other guy windsurfed and spoke French -- heck he even looked French; while our guy (never mind Andover Prep, Yale, Harvard, and scads of help from daddy's rich friends) is a regular guy who clears brush and is barely coherent in English. Kinsley wrote about this in Harpers several years ago:
A journalist moving in generally meritocratic circles makes friends and has associates from widely different social backgrounds. No WASP aristocrat has ever pulled rank on me without seeming ridiculous, and none has put me on the defensive for being who I am. On the other hand, even very good friends from working-class backgrounds often manage to make me squirm. I've never been made to wish I'd gone to Groton, but I'm often made to wish I hadn't gone to Harvard. That's reverse snobbery.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Pay No Attention

Rightwing bloggers such as Michelle Malkin and the AnkleBitingNutcases are in a tizzy over reports that the Whitehouse stagemanaged yet another phony event, allowing the rapidly fading president to bask in the warm feelings most people have for the military. The Associated Press reported the dialog between Allison Barber (a deputy assistant defense secretary, no doubt short-listed for the Supreme Court) and several soldiers via a video link:

"OK, so let's just walk through this," Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?"

"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.

"Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?" she asked.

"Captain Kennedy," the soldier replied.

And so it went.

"If the question comes up about partnering -- how often do we train with the Iraqi military -- who does he go to?" Barber asked.

"That's going to go to Captain Pratt," one of the soldiers said.

"And then if we're going to talk a little bit about the folks in Tikrit -- the hometown -- and how they're handling the political process, who are we going to give that to?" she asked.

Before he took questions, Bush thanked the soldiers for serving and reassured them that the U.S. would not pull out of Iraq until the mission was complete.

"So long as I'm the president, we're never going to back down, we're never going to give in, we'll never accept anything less than total victory," Bush said.

So who do Malkin, et al. turn to try and debunk the story? Why a rightwing milblogger, Ron Long, who just happened to be one of the 10 soldiers who were chosen to appear with the president. Imagine the odds!

However, Long doesn't debunk the charge, he confirms it, using lots of bold print to make sure he gets his point across. "First of all, we were told that we would be speaking with the President of the United States, our Commander-in-Chief, President Bush, so I believe that it would have been totally irresponsible for us NOT to prepare some ideas, facts or comments that we wanted to share with the President." Long then channels Merle Haggard, circa 1970:

It makes my stomach ache to think that we are helping to preserve free speech in the US, while the media uses that freedom to try to RIP DOWN the President and our morale, as US Soldiers. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are tearing the country apart. Worthless!

This latest attempt to stage manage reality by the Bush administration is very much a venial sin. After five years of buying columnists, creating and distributing fake news reports and never missing an opportunity to use the military as a backdropfor the president, I could only laugh when I saw it on the news. The Bush administration's attempts to manage reality aren't working anymore. It is a cliche, but an apt one. The curtain has been pulled and the Wizard exposed as a fraud.
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Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Greatest Generalization

The November issue of Liberty magazine is now out with my article, "The Greatest Generalization," about the tendency of some in the War Party -- I pick on Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson -- to compare the Iraq War to World War II. It is not available on the web so here is a sample:
It is easy to see why Thomas Sowell, Victor Davis Hanson and others (a few minutes with Google will turn up plenty) force the Iraq War into an ill-fitting WWII template. For all the death, destruction and dubious results, the allies vanquished two of the most dangerous regimes of modern times and midwifed prosperous and peaceful countries in Germany and Japan.
Adolf Hitler particularly stands out, both as a figure of pure evil and as a menace on an epic scale. the Fuhrer's armies swept Europe from the Paris to Moscow and from the Norwegian Tundra to the North African Desert. His U-boats and pocket battleships menaced allied shipping from the North Sea to the Indian Ocean.
But Saddam Hussein was no Hitler and the Republican Guard and Fedayeen Saddam were not the SS. If the emptiness of Saddam's "threat" wasn't obvious when his armies caved almost instantly in two wars with the United States, it should have been by the time he chose a humiliating capture and an almost certain execution instead of putting a Lugar in his mouth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fishing for Excuses

How sad it is, after almost three years, that supporters of the invasion of Iraq must fish for justifications for the war; but it happens. The American Spectator (admittedly, not the brightest star in the neocon firmament) has an attempted justification today. The article, by Christopher Orlet anticipates the upcoming war crimes trial of Saddam Hussein. "Depending on whom you ask, Saddam was responsible for the murder of between 300,000 (U.S. government figures) and one million Iraqi civilians (Iraqi politicians' figures), in other words, for the extermination of as much as 10 percent of the Iraqi population, according to the Iraqi Forum for Democracy."

I have problems with Orlet's article, other than his math -- obviously, one million is far short of ten per cent of Iraq's approximately 25 million people. As I have pointed out before, we invaded Iraq in order to dispatch a "grave" and "gathering" threat from Iraq that was so severe that the Bush Administration dared not fritter away its time worrying about how things might go after we "won" the war. Sure, the president mentioned human rights concerns when building a case against Saddam. Who wouldn't against such a monster? But it is obvious that the animating reason for going to war was an alleged "threat" against the US by Saddam.

Orlet has a bizarre quantitative obsession. ". . . the former Iraqi president still ranks with the most savage of mass murderers of the 20th century, the bloodiest of all periods. If Saddam failed to keep pace with Stalin and Lenin (62 million killed), Mao (32 million), or Hitler (20 million), it was not for lack of trying. In fact, if the antiwar gang had gotten their way, Saddam would still be piling up bodies, well on his way to surpassing the totals seen in the Armenian genocide of 1909-18." As if his level of evil is measured purely in numbers. Once he is evil, he is evil-- he doesn't get another stripe for every 100,000 killed. Orlet may not have noticed that, though the killing is much more decentralized, the bodies are still piling up in Iraq.

The biggest omission from Orlet's article is the name, "Reagan." For Republican/conservative war supporters, this is always a problem. During Saddam's murderous peak the Right's patron saint was in the Whitehouse, "tilting" towards Iraq in its aggression against Iran -- one of Saddam's more Hitlerian moments. He even infamously sent Don Rumsfeld to Baghdad to play kissyface with Saddam. It is fair to ask, If Saddam was Hitler, what role did Reagan play? Orlet doesn't say, although he does make a disparaging reference to a president distracted by an "intern's plump thighs." This being the American Spectator, everything always comes back to Bill Clinton.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Run For The Border

George Will takes notice of immigration control leader, Tom Tancredo, who will possibly mount a quixotic presidential campaign in the next election to highlight the issue. Will, however, mistates the problem:
The basic problem is that the nation's economy is ravenous for more immigrant labor than the system of legal immigration can currently provide. Furthermore, about 11 million illegal immigrants are in America. It would take a lot of buses -- 200,000 of them, bumper-to-bumper in a convoy 1,700 miles long -- to carry them back to America's border. America will not do that -- will not round up and deport the equivalent of the population of Ohio.

No, part of the problem is that Americans are consumers first and citizens second. Our bacon, lettuce and tomatoes must be cheap, no matter what the cost. Our political culture is also decayed and corrupt. As far as I could tell, no attention was paid to this critically important issue in the 2004 presidential campaign.

Note also, the patently phony choice Will presents to the reader. Apparently, we can either round up 11 million illegals in a mass deportation, or capitulate.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Always Low Prices

The Progressive reports on a local Wal-Mart's spying on its customers:

Jarvis had assigned her senior civics and economics class "to take photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights," she says. One student "had taken a photo of George Bush out of a magazine and tacked the picture to a wall with a red thumb tack through his head. Then he made a thumb's down sign with his own hand next to the President's picture, and he had a photo taken of that, and he pasted it on a poster." According to Jarvis, the student, who remains anonymous, was just doing his assignment, illustrating the right to dissent.
But over at the Kitty Hawk Wal-Mart, where the student took his film to be developed, this right is evidently suspect. An employee in that Wal-Mart photo department called the Kitty Hawk police on the student. And the Kitty Hawk police turned the matter over to the Secret Service.


My only complaint with this Pat Buchanan column ("In a decision deeply disheartening to those who invested such hopes in him . . .") is this: surely nobody actually still has any "hopes" that George Bush will do anything but fill important jobs with semi-qualified cronies.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Behind the Wheel

One indicator of social decline that doesn't get enough attention is the way that people drive these days. It is depressingly common to see vehicles run red lights in Knoxville, Tennessee. In recent days, I have twice had an SUV tailgate me for lengthy periods of time on two lane roads while I drove at or slightly above the speed limit. I may be in the thrall of the Liberal Media, but it sure seems that people are more likely to drive like a jerk in an Excursion than in an Accord.

Just the other day, while driving in the left lane of a five lane street, I had a pickup shoot around me in the center turn lane while going about 10 miles above the speed limit. If the driver pulled that stunt just a couple of seconds later the results would have been disastrous as I was preparing to make a left turn. Today, I witnessed a similar incident as a pedestrian. While two cars stopped as I entered the crosswalk, a third quickly shot around them by driving into the other lane, while the driver yakked away on a cell phone.

I don't really know what to make out of this, but it's not a good thing that people are so careless while hurtling around in deadly two ton projectiles. It is even more disturbing that so few people seem to care.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Inherent Sleaze

According to LA Times (registration) columnist Jonathan Chait, the sleaze is inherent in Tom Delay's job:

It's hard to imagine how DeLay could function without at least coming very close to breaking the law. His indictment is an indictment of the whole way the Republican Party operates. The central theme of DeLay's tenure has been to break down barriers to greater corporate influence in American politics.

Some of these barriers are mere social norms. It once was considered completely beyond the pale to, say, threaten political retribution against corporations that give donations and lobbying jobs to the other party. DeLay and his "K Street Project" made this a regular practice.

Some of these barriers are formal rules that lack the force of law. The House of Representatives forbids its members from accepting trips from lobbyists. DeLay regularly accepted such trips, financed through transparent front groups.

And some of these barriers are actual laws. Texas law forbids the use of corporate money in elections. DeLay allegedly masterminded a scheme whereby corporations would donate money earmarked for Texas races to the Republican National Committee, which would then pour the money into the Texas races.

The central vision of DeLayism is of a political system whereby business gains almost total control over the Republican agenda, and in return the GOP gains unlimited financial influence over the electoral process.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Here's a headline from the Bizarro World: Ann Coulter Breaks Her 'Silence'.


Pat Buchanan says that we are in trouble:

George W. Bush is in big trouble, and so are we.

In this town, there is barely disguised glee that the president so badly bumbled the rescue-and-recovery operation post-Katrina that he has lost the aura of a strong, engaged and decisive leader.

Democrats and their coalition partners in the media are openly gloating that Bush's fumbling proves them right: He is the fortunate son who is beyond his depth in an office he would not have won had it not been for his name, connections and a friendly Supreme Court.

The piling on begins to grate, but that is the nature of politics here. Vince Foster was right. Ruining people is sport in this city. Especially presidents. When Nixon was mired in Watergate, Reagan ensnared in Iran-Contra and Clinton embroiled in the Monica mess, Washington was whistling, "Happy Days Are Here Again."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Motor City Mad Man

The New York Times has an article about a new Ted Nugent reality show from the Outdoor Life Network. In the article, the mind behind such classics as "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" ("Wang dang, what a sweet poontang a shakin' my thang as a rang-a-dang-dang in the bell") discussed his desire to run for governor of Michigan in 2010, as opposed to 2006. "Even though Michigan needs me desperately - the pimps and the whores and the welfare brats need to be introduced to my crowbar - I think I would be better fortified and my family would be better fortified for the campaign, if I decided to do so, five years from now . . . I was 99 percent ready to do it. In fact, I called Engler, I called Pataki, Huckabee, Perry . . . I had the support of everybody."

Although his endorsements appear to be in line, he might want to hire a few consultants to polish his image and keep him from volunteering all of his opinions such as his view of the Catholic Church:
He is also not a fan of the Roman Catholic Church. "They got how many trillions of dollars in gold and silver and jewelry and art and real estate and stained glass and they're passing the basket on Sunday so they can get the tomato farmers' donation?"

"You see that gut pile?" he added, pointing to a large hole that served as a maggot-infested dumping ground for animal innards. "That's my [expletive] church."

I don't know much about Michingan politics, but I assume that this kind of [expletive] stupid statement might be a liability when running for governor of that state.

Mickey Mouse Kaus

Slate's snarky and pointless Mickey Kaus has become obsessed with Times Select, the new program by the New York Times to make money off of the web. I counted at least two dozen mentions of the new plan currently listed on his blog. Ultimately, I hope that they do away with the Select, since I like to get things for free. I hope, however that it doesn't fail for the reason that Kaus is predicting, as this illustrative comment suggests:
Times columnists are so privileged they must be made second class citizens in the blogosphere! There's some populism for you. ... Haven't the poor NYT pundits been punished enough? I don't see why the Times can't let Krugman (or a designated acolyte) maintain an archive that posts his columns 30 days or 60 days or 90 days after the Times (exclusively) publishes them. Would that really be such a revenue drain?

I don't assume that the only opinions that matter are those discussed and linked to on blogs. If that is true, then there is little future for the type of writing that appears in publications such as the Atlantic Monthly, Harpers or the New Yorker; or even the generally shorter articles and reviews that appear in the American Conservative and like publications. Much of the best and most informative journalism and opinion is of a length that is difficult to comprehend when read on a computer screen, at least for me. The longest articles I regularly read are from Justin Raimondo, and I tend to scan those.

One would think that Kaus, who once wrote for the New Republic and pubished a book before he started thinking in soundbites and blurbs, would know that.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Two Cheers for NIMBYism

The Freeper, Behind Liberal Lines complains about Upstate NIMBY's (Not In My Back Yard):
More NIMBYism. Ethanol may or may not be a worthwhile alternative fuel source, but ten bucks says that the people objecting to this plant are the same people constantly whining about "big oil" and asking why the government doesn't do more to promote alternative fuels.

What I find most appalling is that the guy doesn't even care about the ethanol plant, he just wants to ruin back yards. There was a time when conservatives cared about things like back yards, front yards and neighborhoods, but that doesn't have anything to do with FreeRepublic.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Team Players

Several American Spectator readers object to a pessimistic "Prowler" article suggesting that the Bush Agenda is dead. Some of the responses are revealing, such as this line from Carol: "Has he solved the immigration problem yet? Has any other president ever tried?" Actully, the problem with Bush on immigration is that he is trying to make it worse with an ill-conceived amnesty plan. And yes previous presidents have tried to do something about immigration.

Another reader, one A. DiPentima complains that the American Spectator, by printing something negative is acting more like the New York Times than "part of the team." What DiPentima wants is the political equivalent of "Rah Rah Rah, Sis Boom Bah."

Finally, one reader notes that while the Prowler referred to the president's response to Katrina as "Clintonian" when the problem was the his response was too Bushian: "As I understand from all the reports I've heard and read, the 'Clintonian response' had been to appoint emergency response professionals to emergency response positions. Bush's has been to appoint cronies and Arabian horse professionals to those positions. The results speak for themselves."

Monday, September 19, 2005


I haven't commented on Cindy Sheehan much. I generally agree with her on the Iraq War, but too many of the statements attributed to her are disturbing. But this post complaining about the "liberal bias" in an article on Sheehan in the New York Times. He is particularly upset with this paragraph:
The church was an appropriate setting for a protest, said the Rev. David W. Dyson, who helped organize the event. Built in 1857, the church was created as part of the abolitionist movement, and tunnels below were twice used to shelter runaway slaves as part of the Underground Railroad.

The anonymous poster illogically concludes that the Times is implying, "Simon Legree=George W. Bush? Slavery=the War in Iraq? You bet." So far, so bad. Although no reasonable person could make the leap that this guy attributes to the Times, it is the sort of nonsense that probably occurrs in the blogosphere about a million times a day. What really disgusts me is that he refers to Cindy Sheehan as a "Gold Star Moron." I don't believe that Sheehan, or anybody who enters the political arena, should be above criticism; but to refer to a Gold Star Mother, who buried her son, as a "Gold Star Moron" is disgusting.

Stephen Spruiell, the media blogger at National Review Online saw nothing objectionable when he linked to the post.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Economics in One Lesson

Alexander McClure of Polipundit needs to read his Henry Hazlitt:
Yes the price tag is high, but the spending will actually in the long run have a very positive effect on the nation's economy and of the three states, invigorate the construction industry and trades, and of course create a lot of good paying, real jobs.
The lesson of Hazlitt is that broken windows aren't good for the economy. Perhaps he should have added that this is still true if the repair man is a Republican. some of the comments agree.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Wish I Had Said That

Andrew Sullivan refers to Hugh Hewitt as the Sidney Blumenthal of the Bush administration -- an apt comparison. Of course, Blumenthal eventually made it official and went to work in the Clinton Whitehouse.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Formerly Massive Deficit Now Only Huge!

Polipundit readers learn what the liberal MSM refuses to tell you: the formerly gargantuan Bush/Republican deficit is now only monstrously large.

Settled Law

I don't know if John Roberts is just being coy (you know, lying) when he describes Roe v. Wade as "settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis." Roe is actually a festering sore on the Constitution and one of the most unsettled decisions of the last half century. Undoing this decision would be like a tonic for the American body politic, although I doubt that it would have much affect on the abortion status quo.

The Reality of War

Jason Apuzzo of the rightwing Libertas website is already worked into a froth over Jarhead, the forthcoming film by British director, Sam Mendes (American Beauty). Part of what has Apuzzo so upset is a Los Angeles Times article questioning if Americans are ready for such a film. Appuzo's interpretation of the article is:

The real question, though, is whether moviegoers in Nebraska strip-malls are ready to have their shallow, Midwestern prejudices about the justness of America's cause be challenged. Probably we advanced thinkers in Hollywood are still too far ahead for them, so this film with its earnest, stage-trained European director will probably fall flat.

Actually, if Apuzzo would come to Knoxville, I could introduce him to many ordinary Americans who at least question the wisdom of our present Iraq adventure, as well as the previous campaign depicted in Jarhead (the book as well as film). At the close, Apuzzo complains about a scene described in the LA Times article depicting a Marine mutilating an Iraqi corpse. "What a marvelous, respectful depiction of our fighting men! Goodness, how could our boys over in Iraq ask for more than to be depicted as mutilators of corpses! This should really help morale on the ground, don't you think?

I wonder, what exactly does Apuzzo think happens in war? He should read (and Mendes should film) With The Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, by the late Eugene B. Sledge. Sledge's account of his role in the War in the Pacific depicts the savagery of war as it existed on both sides (with the Japanese far worse than the Americans) in that war. Sometimes it is difficult to simply read and almost impossible to manage how anyone could survive with his sanity intact. Here is just one example:

While I was removing the bayonet and scabbard from a dead Japanese, I noticed a Marine near me. He wasn't in our mortar section but he happened by and wanted to get in on the spoils. He came up to me dragging what I assumed to be a corpse. But the Japanese wasn't dead. He had been wounded severely in the back and couldn't move his arms; otherwise he would have resisted to his last breath.

The Japanese's mouth glowed with huge gold crowned teeth, and his captor wanted them. He put the point of his kabar on the base of a tooth and hit the handle with the palm of his hand. Because the Japanese was kicking his feet and thrashing about, the knife point glanced off the tooth and sank deeply into the victim's mouth. The Marine cursed him and with a slach cut his cheeks open to each ear. He put his foot on the sufferer's lower jaw and tried again. Blood poured out of the soldier's mouth. He made a gurgling noise and thrashed wildly. I shouted, "Put the man out of his misery." All I got for an answer was a cussing out. Another Marine ran up, put a bullet in the enemy's soldier's brain, and ended his agony. The scavenger grumbled and continued extracting his prizes undisturbed.

Such was the incredible cruelty that decent men could commit when reduced to a brutish existence in their fight for survival amid the violent death, terror, tension, fatigue, and filth that was the infantryman's war.
UPDATE: A thouhtful comment by a reader who, of course, hasn't seen the unreleased movie:

These leftist losers have been making these types of films since 1969. Only a liberal can come up with logic such as this, "I support the troops but not the war . . ." yet they admire the US Marines, but always show them in a negative light. This generation of fighting men and women will be spit upon in the pop culture in the years to come, just as they did to the Vietnam Vets. Liberals can't help themselves, they HATE President Bush, they HATE conservatives, they HATE GOD and everything that AMERICA stands for.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Josh Marshall has a handy timeline of events related to Hurricane Katrina.

UPDATE: Similar effort from Rightwingnuthouse.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Fiddlin' While New Orleans Drowns


I can't begin to sort through all of the events on the Gulf Coast of the past week that have mangaged to sweep everything, including the unfolding Iraq quagmire, out of the headlines. A big question now is, who is to blame for the disaster? Presumably that list is large and includes several people in Louisiana. It is possible that the Mayor Nagin of New Orleans and Governer Blanco of Louisiana will pay with their political careers.

It looks as if President Bush, who allowed himself to be photographed while playin' a guitar the day the levies gave way, may pay a political price as well-- although his allies are in full damage control mode. Christopher Ruddy, taking a break from solving the Ron Brown murder, finds time to make excuses for the president. Ruddy delivers a brief lesson on federalism and then notes that after all that the "Federal Emergency Management Agency, was created only in 1979." Well gee, I guess they are still trying to figure out how the copier works and find a place to plug in the coffee pot.

Hugh Hewitt, who has as much critical distance from the president as Karl Rove, also plays up the federalism angle:

It is possible that Neal doesn't know basic American government. It is obvious quite a few folks don't. Brendon Loy, who has done an amazing job posting this week, brought a 2L's passion to his denunciation of various federal officials, but if he was a student in my ConLaw class, I'd ask him, and allother commentators the following questions:

What is the "police power?"

Where does it reside?
Is there a federal "police power?"
Can the federal government order the evacuation of a city when state and local officials have not done so?

Who has first call on a state's national guard?

Who controls a city's police department?

Are Hewitt and Ruddy so deluded that they believe that the president and his advisors carefully read through the Constitution and the opinions of Learned Hand before deciding if they have the power to act? Bush had no concerns about federalism when he signed the No Child Left Behind Act, or when they went to the Supreme Court to override state governing the use of medical marijuana.

The real issue concerns the President's leadership. It is hard to imagine any other plausible president -- Clinton, Gore, Kerry, McCain, Buchanan -- dithering the way that President Bush did in the aftermath of the hurricane. If Louisiana state officials were dragging their feet; I'm sure that President McCain, for example, would have got on the horn and found out what the hell the problem was, instead of waiting for paperwork to be filled out in triplicate. I doubt that President Kerry would stand around, patting his FEMA director on the back, or look forward to sittin' on Trent Lott's porch while people were still dying.

There is going to be much discussion of the proper role of the Federal Government in the coming weeks. I would like to see it get out of many areas, starting with education and trying to run the rest of the world (What clause of the Constitution authorized the Coalition Provisional Authority, Hugh?). But as long as it has the resources, rescuing people from major natural disasters seems like a good thing. When the feds are done with that, they might take a look at that southern border.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Carter's Decontrol

It helps to simplify your world view immensely when you get to make up your own facts. Jayson at Polipundit rightly dismisses the insane notion of price controls but can't help inserting a dig at our 39th president. "Fortunately, however, we’ve come quite a long way since Jimmy Carter was running the country."

What's wrong with this statement? Well, as this Mises Institute report by William Anderson reports, President Carter was resonsible for the decontrol of oil prices that were put in place by Richard Nixon. Anderson notes, however that "Full decontrol was scheduled to take place in the spring of 1981, but Reagan upon taking office lifted controls almost immediately, thus receiving credit for what was mostly the action of his predecessor."

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Good Timing

Another quick note about the Sept. 12 issue of the American Conservative: It's cover could only have been more timely if it had read; "New Orleans: Get Out."

Monday, August 29, 2005

Duncan '08

The Sept. 12 issue of the American Conservative arrived and it is notable for having two Upstate New York Reactionary Radicals. James Howard Kunstler is the author of the anti-suburban jeremiad, Home From Nowhere and other books. His latest book and his TAC article argues for that we facing a bleak future of withdrawal from our oil-dependent economy. I don't yet buy into his bleak vision, but it doesn't sound as crazy as it would have a few years ago.

The issue also contains an article by the estimable Bill Kauffman. Kauffman, the author of Dispatches From the Muckdog Gazette, interviewed my congressman, Jimmy Duncan. Duncan is one of the handful of actual conservatives remaining in the Repulican party. He is one of the six who voted against the invasion of Iraq because, as he notes, Saddam "hadn't attacked us. He hadn't threatened to attack us," and "he wasn't capable of attacking us." Since the war has become a costly quagmire, he reports that some house members privately tell him the wish they had voted with him.

Kauffman prods Duncan to run for president in the next election:

I suggest to Duncan that he would make a fine antiwar candidate for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. Surely there are still Republicans who care about limited, decentralized governance within a constitutional republic and who would rally to Duncan's blend of front-porch antiwar patriotism, Scots-Irish Presbyterian rectitude, East Tennessee pride, and taxpayer-watchdog populism.

I would like to think so, and he would have my vote, but I think Duncan is correct to predict that he would get "slaughtered." The loudest voices on the Republican Right want nothing to do with a conservative.