Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dining With Bob

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Henley adds:
Just as Bush’s nicknaming hobby is a dominance game, so is his behavior with Webb from the very start. First, he butts in on a man who is trying to avoid him. Then he picks a guaranteed bone of contention as his “pleasantry.” Bush knows where Webb’s son is; Bush knows Webb wishes his son weren’t there. Bush also knows that Webb knows that Bush has total control of whether Webb’s son is in Iraq or not. As “commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” Bush is the younger Webb’s ultimate boss. Bush is taunting Webb here. He’s trumping him. No wonder Webb wanted to slug him.

More fallout from the Bush-Webb flap, this time from R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. of the American Spectator. Tyrrell compares Webb to such personality challenged Democrats as Howard Dean and John Kerry and remembers an unpleasant dinner with Webb some years back.
At any rate, I invited him to dinner for what turned out to be a gruesome evening. Webb is one of those people of whom it is said he is uncomfortable in his skin. At first I thought his discomfort might come from the fear he was going to have to pay his way. It was a classy eatery. I reassured him that he was my guest. I went on to make clear I considered him a fine writer. Nothing I said reassured him, not even my insistence that he have dessert. I left baffled. Most of the military men I have known are gents. Many writers are cads, but I thought a writer who had also served high up in the Reagan Administration might be civilized. After that dinner I never made the mistake of inviting him anywhere again.

There is no surer sign of a social outcast than not enjoying a fancy, expensive, free dinner with the witty and brilliant founding editor of the American Spectator; but then it's remotely possible that Webb got tired of constantly having to say, "why yes Bob, you are another H.L. Mencken."

UPDATE: Several American Spectator readers take exception to the magazine's recent lame attacks on James Webb. Here's part of a good one:
RET's account of his dining experience with Webb, albeit humorous, appears to be a major factor in his evaluation of the senator to be. But how many who question Webb's ability to handle properly his fork and knife (he is, after all, a graduate of the Naval Academy), or his excessive pugnacity, have ever met the man? Allow me to raise my hand.
. . .
During the luncheon held in the ambassador's residence, Webb spoke of the Soviet naval threat with precision and knowledge; his responses to all questions were carefully thought out and measured; in short he was in his element. If memory serves, he did not drool or talk with his mouth full of food either. But what followed I retain, twenty years after, as an indelibly etched memory: I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with him, and Webb, always a gentleman, allowed your scribe to question him, among other things, about his article, "Why Women Can't Fight," the plight of the military academies, as well as the state of the Cold War. He was nothing short of impressive, and quite comfortable in his own skin.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

How's Your Boy?

Rightwingers sure are whiny these days. Their latest complaint is over an exchange between Senator-elect Webb and the President:
At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.
"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.
"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.
"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

In a post labeled "Webb of Classlessness," Kathryn Lopez complains "It's bad enough it all happened -- but for Webb to continue it . . . A leader knows getting into a bitchfest with the president isn't the best way to start things off."

I'm not sure I can trust my judgment on this since I detest Bush and actually kind of like Webb, but the President seems to be the classless one here -- he tracks someone down who is avoiding him and then addresses him in an overly familiar manner ("how's your boy?"); and then responds condescendingly ( "That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?") when he doesn't like the first answer.

I would take a different view if Webb had sought out Bush for a confrontation, but he didn't. He told the Post, "I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall." I assume that the number of people who are is rapidly dwindling.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The War Against Peace Signs

This will confuse Bill O'Reilly. (via to Talk Left) A homeowners association in Loma Linda, California is threatening to fine a resident if she doesn't remove her Christmas wreath made in the shape of a peace symbol.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Hillbilly "Christianists" Are Coming!

So was it our racial or religious bigotry? I'm referring to the recent election in Tennessee between Harold Ford, Jr. and Bob Corker. An Andrew Sullivan reader writes:
For those who believe Bob Corker won because of racism, rest assured he won on religious fundamentalism. Proof in point: last night in Chattanooga, TN (Bob Corker's hometown) NBC aired "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" instead of the Madonna concert. Our children and grandchildren learn to cut school, be cool, borrow Dad's Ferrari and tell a few harmless lies. But by the Grace of God, our community protects impressionable youth from that sexual and religious deviant Madonna. Our children will know only the true Virgin Madonna not the "Like-A-Virgin" Madonna.
Maybe I have breathed in too much smoke from cross burnings or have been bitten at too many snake handling services, but I hadn't previously considered how the post-election decision of one Tennessee network affiliate to preempt a Madonna concert for such "Christianist" propaganda as Ferris Bueller's Day off would have on the election in Tennessee two weeks earlier. But Sullivan and his correspondent should consider other possibilities -- Maybe potential Ford Supporters were out marrying their cousins on election day, or were too busy tending their stills -- there are a lot of potential reasons.

Sullivan and his correspondent should consider the nature of politics in the Volunteer State. This is the state that sent Howard Baker to the Senate. In the primary this year, the least favorite candidate of social conservatives was Bob Corker. They preferred Ed Bryant, who has now lost two Republican senate primaries in a row in Tennessee. The other big election in Tennessee was for governor. We reelected Phil Bredesen, the son of a Tennessee dirt farmer who became a Pentecostal preacher. No wait, Bredesen is actually a New Jersey born, Harvard educated health care executive who was overwhelmingly reelected this year -- he carried every county.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The List

Christopher Hitchens says that James Baker is the last person we should listen to about Iraq. Actually, there are a few people who should be on the list ahead of Baker, such as Hitchens himself; Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Don't forget the guys at National Review and the Weekly Standard. The list could go on and on.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Question of the Day

Why would anyone take a cruise? Ever. Under any circumstances:
The Carnival Cruise Lines' Liberty arrived in Fort Lauderdale Sunday with hundreds of passengers and crew still weak from an intestinal virus which swept through the ship.

The cruise company reported 534 passengers and 142 crew were treated in the ship's infirmary with illness symptoms over the course of the 16-day voyage from Rome to South Florida's Port Everglades.

At the end of the cruise, there were 14 passengers and 5 crew still exhibiting symptoms and in isolation.

"It was a horrible cruise," said Eddie Amico of West Palm Beach as he disembarked.

Brief Encounters

Scott McConnell writes of an interesting encounter with Jim Webb in the latest issue of The American Conservative:

My own Webb bandwagon moment occurred in Late September at a fundraiser in Northern Virginia. The Candidate arrived, slightly late, while a suburbanite audience awaited the chance to shake his hand, size him up. He worked the room for a few minutes, our host introduced him to me, and he stopped for several minutes to converse about a Paul Schroeder essay that had appeared in TAC. This was thrilling, of course, and it's impossible to imagine any other major-party candidate (even among the coterie of TAC readers in the House GOP) who would have behaved the same way.

Actually, I had a similar experience with Congressman Duncan, of Tennessee's 2nd district. The big difference being that Duncan wasn't on the ballot at the time, and even if he does he usually wins with about 80% of the vote.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Free Market Baloney

I saw a couple of pieces touching on problems with the "Free Market" today. Michael at 2Blowhards notes the role that mostly hidden subsidies play in the exurban/bigbox/fastfood/ lifestyle. "For one thing, the already-existing real-estate and housing industries have been complicit with the government for decades. Should the New Urbers be kept from the trough that their competitors are pigging out on? Besides, what most feet-on-the-ground New Urbers are spending their time doing is trying to get locales to loosen up already-existing top-down regulations that make it impossible for New Urbanist developments to be created."

Meanwhile, Senator-elect, James Webb (in the Wall Street Journal, of all places) notes the role of corporate boards in escalating executive pay. "Incestuous corporate boards regularly approve compensation packages for chief executives and others that are out of logic's range. As this newspaper has reported, the average CEO of a sizeable corporation makes more than $10 million a year . . ."

Back in the glory days of Reactionary Radicals, I quoted Wendell Berry on the elephant in the room in terms of government intervention in the economy -- limited liability:
You would find that these organizations are organized expressly for the evasion of responsibility. They are structures in which, as my brother says, "the buck never stops." The buck is processed up the hierarchy until finally it is passed to "the shareholders," who characteristically are too widely dispersed, too poorly informed, and too unconcerned to be responsible for anything.

This intervention becomes more important the less it is mentioned. Shareholders are free to sell their stock if they decide that the board is overpaying the CEO, but the diffuse, transitory and anonymous nature stock ownership makes that an unlikely check on the behavior of boards and executives.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Oh Yeah!

While scrolling through a comment thread at the Contra-Crunchy site, I found several excellent comments from my spiritual leader, "Bubba." Such as, "is it wrong to suspect that Rod thinks Iraq's a disaster because he wants it to be a disaster?" An excellent analyis on Bubba's part explaining why Rod Dreher, and Rod Dreher alone, seems to believe that the Iraq war hasn't gone well. It has nothing to do with the ethnic and religious violence that continues to tear the country apart, just Rod's wishes.

Bubba pegs "truly reactionary paleos" as well. "If they actively desire a failure in American foreign policy because such failure would vindicate their ideology, it can't be said that they're truly patriotic." That would be a real stinger if ideology wasn't antithetical to the tendency called "paleoconservatism."

He also adds, "And am I the only one who finds it funny that both Rod and Stooksbury are invoking children's books and movies to express their truly childish glee?" To which I can only reply, eat my shorts.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!

For some reason, my thoughts keep returning to the Wicked Witch of the West:
You cursed brat!
Look what you've done!! I'm melting, melting.
Ohhhhh, what a world, what a world.
Who would have thought that some little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness.

Suspicious TIming

Since the Liberal MSM/Drive-by-Media/Jihad Media won't mention it, I will: this election was suspiciously timed to occur when George W. Bush's credibility was swirling down the drain.

Republicans? We Hardly know those Guys

Expect a lot of commentary along the lines of these from Philip Klein and Michelle Malkin. Conservatism didn't lose, they argue, Republicans did. Klein thinks that the GOP should try "returning to their small government roots and once again becoming the party of ideas." Which would work except for the fact that there is no constituency for their "small government roots."

Malkin argues that,

The GOP lost. Conservatism prevailed. "San Francisco values" may control the gavels in Congress, but they do not control America. Property rights initiatives limiting eminent domain won big. MCRI, the anti-racial preference measure, passed resoundingly. . . Gay marriage bans won approval in 3 states. . .

John Kerry's late-campaign troop smear galvanized bloggers and talk radio hosts, but it was not strong enough to overcome wider bipartisan voter doubts about Iraq. I'll weigh in further on the war and the GOP in the morning.

I wonder if in thirty years she will be arguing that conservatives prevailed because initiatives passed outlawing the "man on dog" sex that Rick Santorum so feared. That most Americans still oppose gay marriage hardly says that conservatives are winning. Note how she attributes the loss to "wider bipartisan voter doubts about Iraq" as if invading Iraq wasn't central the central issue for the Right in the last few years.


Dean Barnett (Hugh Hewitt, Jr.) on Oct. 26:

SO, IT’S PREDICTION TIME. The House is going to be really close. I’m with Barone. Either we’ll hang on by a seat or two or we’ll lose by a seat or two. Either way, the Republicans will have what we once used to call a working majority – there will be enough mainstream Democrats that we won’t have to worry about two years of impeachment and other Conyers-inspired insanity.

But it’s in the Senate where I’m going to go out on a limb. All the close races? The ones in Virginia, Montana, Tennessee, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, and Missouri? We’re going to run the table except for one. I bet Ohio’s where we go down. In Pennsylvania or Michigan, either the brave Santorum or the increasingly impressive Bouchard will pull off the major upset. And in Rhode Island, heads they win, tails we lose. I personally hope the voters return Lincoln Chafee to private life where he’ll no doubt make a profound contribution to society as an eccentric philatelist or something along those lines.

And more recently: "Remember when I said I would let you know when it's time to panic? Consider yourself duly notified."

The Bastards Are Thrown Out . . .

And I approve of this message.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Trail of Tears

Will the Sun ever shine on K-Lo again? "Senator Santorum has graciously conceded. Reminding people of that Gathering Storm we have to face without or without him in the Senate. Says he's proud he didn't run on pork, but the stakes of this war we're in."

Open Thread

Rod Dreher has an open thread up for voting discussion. I supported investigations and gridlock.

You Decide

Mark Rose: "The conservative ideology is inherently optimistic and hopeful. This means conservatives have no reason not to be optimistic and hopeful. Our message, after all, is a winning message: permanent tax cuts, no amnesty for illegals, no same-sex marriage, no abortion-on-demand, and finish the war in Iraq."

Russell Kirk: "Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word 'conservative' as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order."

And wouldn't an "optimist" conclude that anybody can assimilate and become an American, so their is no reason to control immigration?

Monday, November 06, 2006


A somewhat self-involved Andrew Sullivan "welcomes" the American Conservative to the opposition to the Bush administration and the Republican Congress because of their GOP Must Go editorial. Sullivan writes, "Virtually the entire conservative movement is now disowning this administration and this Congress. I welcome every single one."

That is nonsense of course, any number of rightwingers are shilling for a Republican victory. As for TAC, is Sullivan would study that publication's archives he would see that it was attacking the Bush administration and opposing the Iraq war from day one -- back when Sullivan was one of its biggest cheerleaders.


Voters, when you go to the polls tomorrow, don't forget to focus on the real issues:
Osama bin Kerry's insult of the troops

The suspicious timing of the Foley story.

The Liberal Media's failure to report the good news in Iraq.

Keep these in mind and you won't go wrong.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

All in the Timing

Glenn Reynolds: "I QUESTION THE TIMING: 'The unemployment rate dropped to a five-year low of 4.4 percent in October as employers added 92,000 new jobs flashing a picture of a strong labor market as the midterm elections draw near.'"

Glenn Reynolds: "On the other hand, this December Vanity Fair article -- conveniently made available just before the election -- suggests that the issue isn't so much Rumsfeld as President Bush, though the critics, especially Ken Adelman, get in plenty of swipes at Rumsfeld, too." (emphasis added)

mimeographed cliches

Here is my only prediction for this election season: Ten years from now, the desiccated remnant of the Republican-oriented right now congregating at National Review, FreeRepublic and Townhall; will subsist on to quote William F. Buckley, "mimeographed cliches describing The Plot to Destroy America" and will blame everything -- Iraq, the huge debt and the failure of the Bush administration on Nancy Pelosi, the New York Times and Pat Buchanan.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Rod Dreher is Bad, Amen!

A couple of weeks ago, Rod Dreher announced that he left the Roman Catholic for the Orthodox Church, in a post about the length of the Old Testament. I didn't have anything to say about it because I don't generally comment on religious matters.

But now I have my own announcement. I have joined the Church of Rod Dreher Is Bad. Let me tell you a little bit about it. Our spiritual leader is Bubba of The Contra-Crunchy Conservative (Jonah Goldberg is a Bishop). Our central tenet is that Rod Dreher is Bad. We don't like him. We don't like his 13 year old Mercedes. We don't like the New Testament length of the subtitle of the hardcover version of his book, yet we don't approve of the shortened version on the paperback. We don't care for that Larison guy either, he thinks that he is so smart. The worst thing that Dreher does is fail to excuse the arrogance and incompetence and stupidity of Republican rule of the last six years. How dare he notice what a disaster the Iraq war has been! How dare he not attempt to scare his readers by screaming "Pelosi!, Pelosi!, Pelosi!"

The best thing about our Church is that it doesn't have all of those stuffy rules and Commandments. In fact, we are willing to excuse and forgive any failing and swallow any amount of crap -- so long as you are a Republican politician.

You can't believe the peace this gives me. I now have an answer for everything. You say that the Republicans deserve to lose, I say Rod Dreher is Bad. You say that the war in Iraq is actually harming our national security, I say Rod Dreher is Bad. You say that conservatives shouldn't let America become a gigantic WalMacStarMartBucks, I say Rod Dreher is Bad. Life is so simple, yet so meaningful now.


How much self respect will the folks at NRO trade away to keep Dennis Hastert in power and protect the Bush administration from being investigated? Quite a bit it seems. One hopes that some of them will wake up next Wednesday with a political hangover and some regrets.

But at the moment, Jim Geraghty is asking in a rather hysterical fashion, "I'm sorry, did the New York Times just put on the front page that IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB? He continues:

What? Wait a minute. The entire mantra of the war critics has been "no WMDs, no WMDs, no threat, no threat", for the past three years solid. Now we're being told that the Bush administration erred by making public information that could help any nation build an atomic bomb.


I think the Times editors are counting on this being spun as a "Boy, did Bush screw up" meme; the problem is, to do it, they have to knock down the "there was no threat in Iraq" meme, once and for all. Because obviously, Saddam could have sold this information to anybody, any other state, or any well-funded terrorist group that had publicly pledged to kill millions of Americans and had expressed interest in nuclear arms. You know, like, oh . . . al-Qaeda.

. . .

The antiwar crowd is going to have to argue that the information somehow wasn't dangerous in the hands of Saddam Hussein, but was dangerous posted on the Internet. It doesn't work. It can't be both no threat to America and yet also somehow a threat to America once it's in the hands of Iran. Game, set, and match.

Well, not exactly. It is clear to a relatively sane person that the Times article is refering to the Iraq nuclear program prior to the 1991 Gulf War:

. . .

But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq's secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.
. . .
With the public increasingly skeptical about the rationale and conduct of the war, the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees argued that wide analysis and translation of the documents -- most of them in Arabic -- would reinvigorate the search for clues that Mr. Hussein had resumed his unconventional arms programs in the years before the invasion. American search teams never found such evidence.

. . .
Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein's scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.
. . .

A senior American intelligence official who deals routinely with atomic issues said the documents showed "where the Iraqis failed and how to get around the failures." The documents, he added, could perhaps help Iran or other nations making a serious effort to develop nuclear arms, but probably not terrorists or poorly equipped states. The official, who requested anonymity because of his agency's rules against public comment, called the papers "a road map that helps you get from point A to point B, but only if you already have a car."

. . .
In September, the Web site began posting the nuclear documents, and some soon raised concerns. On Sept. 12, it posted a document it called "Progress of Iraqi nuclear program circa 1995." That description is potentially misleading since the research occurred years earlier. . . (emphasis added)

The fact that Iraq had documents on how to build nuclear weapons from their program that was ended in 1991 doesn't come close to undermining the antiwar case -- a big part of which is that the U.S. would end up in an Iraqi quagmire (or sandstorm, if you prefer). He says that Saddam could have given this stuff to Osama but is oblivious to the fact that he had more than a decade to do so, but didn't and he must have missed the quote saying that it wouldn't have helped terrorists or poorly equipped states.

"Oakleaf" at Polipundit uses the same article to conclude that "in 2002 Saddam Hussein's 'scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.'" Not exactly, "Oakleaf." Even Geraghty noted that it takes actual stuff to make a nuclear weapon, not just paperwork.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds pours some cold water on the hysteria. "udging from some of the delighted emails I'm getting, I need to warn people not to get too carried away -- this doesn't say that Saddam would have had a bomb in 2004."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More Raving

More Kerry Raving in NRO's Corner, this time from Andrew McCarthy:
National Democrats, including Kerry as late as two days ago, and the national media, including the White House press corps as late as yesterday, first misconstrued Rush's remarks (and ignored the lengthy, generally unassailable argument from which they were drawn -- to wit, that even those for whom we have sympathy cannot expect immunity from criticism when they enter the public arena); then they demanded an apology to keep the story alive; then they misrepresented the apology that came (when Fox explained that he had OVER-medicated, Rush apologized for suggesting he had under-medicated or been acting, but did not retract any of the original, valid criticism); and then -- once Kerry got himself in hot water -- they switched gears and claimed the apology they had been gleefully chirping about for several days had not actually happened, such that Kerry should now not have to apologize unless Rush apologized.

I have what the heck he is talking about. Who is saying that Kerry shouldn't apologize unless "Rush" does? He doesn't give any specific examples -- much less links -- of who is saying the things he says that they are saying.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Raving Idiots

John Derbyshire, who seems to be the only cornerite who hasn't become a raving idiot over the elections, threw a little cold water on the Kerry "insult" hysteria overcoming the right.
He may regard them with contempt (my personal impression is that JK regards most of the human race with contempt); he may despise them; he may think they're dumb crackers; but T-H-A-T-'-S N-O-T W-H-A-T H-E S-A-I-D.

The best responses are from Ramesh Ponnuru and K.J. Lopez who both seem to be saying that since they can misinterpret Kerry's remarks, that's what they will do.

I have a feeling that one day soon, Derb is going to wake up and wonder why he is associating himself with such boobs, or NR will deem him to be yet another Unpatriotic Conservative. Larison has more.

UPDATE: Ramesh Ponnuru takes me to task, and I probably did overinterpret his words. He did note that Republicans would continue to make a stink about what Kerry didn't say and didn't mean:

Kerry may have meant to make an anti-Bush crack--he probably did, even--but the plainest reading of what came out of his mouth was an anti-troops crack. So he should have said that he botched the line and never meant to insult the troops. That wouldn't have ended the story, since it's too good for Republican partisans to let go, but it would have caused it to die down considerably. As for John Derbyshire, he needs to learn to take criticism as well as he dishes it out. (emphasis added)
Meanwhile, the phony controversy continues in the Corner.

GOP Must Go

The American Conservative on the midterm election(via Daniel McCarthy:

The meaning of this election will be interpreted in one of two ways: the American people endorsed the Bush presidency or they did what they could to repudiate it. Such an interpretation will be simplistic, even unfairly so. Nevertheless, the fact that will matter is the raw number of Republicans and Democrats elected to the House and Senate.

It should surprise few readers that we think a vote that is seen--in America and the world at large--as a decisive "No" vote on the Bush presidency is the best outcome. We need not dwell on George W. Bush's failed effort to jam a poorly disguised amnesty for illegal aliens through Congress or the assaults on the Constitution carried out under the pretext of fighting terrorism or his administration's endorsement of torture. Faced on Sept. 11, 2001 with a great challenge, President Bush made little effort to understand who had attacked us and why--thus ignoring the prerequisite for crafting an effective response. He seemingly did not want to find out, and he had staffed his national-security team with people who either did not want to know or were committed to a prefabricated answer.