MORE 2008 [Ramesh Ponnuru]
A friend emailed me about the same article, disputing my take on the senators who would be president. He writes, "I disagree with you re Frist in 2008. Not that he's the best candidate in the world or that he would win a hotly contested primary, but I think his not having been governor does not hurt him as much as it would hurt most others. What voters like is someone who is practiced at making binary decisions: up or down on particular issues, yes or no. That's why they favor governors over senators. Frist may get a pass on this because of his background as a heart surgeon...talk about binary decisions, he's had to make a million of them. I also disagree about Hagel. In 2008 he will have all parts of the (remaining) liberal media at his feet, like McCain, but against a conservative voting bloc that is less likely to have coalesced around a leading 'alternative.' The media will play Hagel up as a populist and many grass-roots voters who usually vote conservative will be attracted to that plus his military credentials. He would probably lose but poses a major danger if he gets in."
Posted at 06:52 PM
PESSIMISM [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Professor Bainbridge says that National Review's writers are too pessimistic. A certain connection between conservatism and pessimism has, of course, long been rumored; I won't try to dispute his point. But I think he has it wrong on one point: "In the latest NRODT, for example, Ramesh Ponnuru basically concedes the 2008 election to Hillary Clinton." As a matter of fact, I do not think that Hillary Clinton would be all that formidable a general-election candidate for president. There was pessimism in my article, but of two specific types: 1) pessimism about the likelihood of victory for senators running for president, and 2) pessimism about conservatives' chances of finding a strong standard-bearer for 2008. I didn't discuss whether Republicans or Democrats would be in a stronger position in 2008, as I do not have a view of the matter.
Posted at 06:48 PM
MORE ON MAD COW [Jonathan H. Adler]
Holman Jenkins' solid "mad cow" column is now online here.
Posted at 06:13 PM
COLLUSION MEMO COVERAGE [Jonathan H. Adler]
The Washington Post finally gives substantive coverage to the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrat "collusion memos."
Posted at 06:11 PM
ANOTHER MOVIE [Jonah Goldberg]
As Cornerites know, I love, love, love "Groundhog Day." I think you can make the case that it's a conservative movie, but I think it would spoil it if I tried. In fact, that's sort of my problem with the whole "conservative movie" thing. Many of the greatest films aren't intended to advance a narrow political agenda. Conservatism is only a partial philosophy of life, it needn't invade every nook and cranny of art and entertainment. That's what liberalism does.
Posted at 04:28 PM
CRETIN WATCH [Andrew Stuttaford]
It is impossible to imagine that the New York Times would fawn over a contemporary philosopher of fascism, but the gray lady has done the moral equivalent with a slobber job on Marxist ‘cultural critic’ Terry Eagleton, a malevolent, if eloquent, half-wit who, we are told, continues to admire the seer of Trier, with the approval, it seems, of the paper of record:
“Still, his work is shadowed by Roman Catholicism. Mr. Eagleton seems to find a confluence between his interpretation of Marxism and Christianity, in a shared ethic of cooperativism, and protection of the poor and the weak.”
I’ll leave the theologically-inclined to discuss that particular interpretation of Christianity, but, at its core, Marxism has, of course, nothing to do with “cooperativism” or the “protection of the poor and the weak.” Crazy Karl’s crazy doctrines, a mish-mash of lousy economics, worse history and a profound contempt for humanity, are nothing more than the ravings of a millennial cultist, impressive only in the intellectual atmosphere of a lunatic asylum or, more charitably, the debating society of a third-rate high school.
But then there’s more:
"If you want the most trenchant account of Stalinism you have to go to Marxism, not liberalism," says Eagleton. That is, quite simply, a lie, albeit a lie unchallenged by the Times dozy reporter, and it’s a lie that collapses into complete incoherence with this:
"Stalinism wasn't, from our point of view, radical enough. Long before Tiananmen Square the mainstream Marxists were saying the Soviet system is a travesty. You can't build Communism in backward conditions. You need international support. You need a society with a liberal democracy. Marx always saw socialism in continuity with middle-class democracy."
The relevance of “Tiananmen Square,” an essentially liberal democratic, not Marxist, critique of Communist savagery, escapes me, and if ‘mainstream’ Marxists were highly critical of the Soviet system ‘long before’ those terrible events, it’s a somewhat hollow achievement: that massacre took place less than three years before the Soviet collapse. Yes, some Marxists did ‘renounce’ the Soviet model, but this was nothing more than the protestations of a few rats attempting to justify their departure from a sinking ship.
In reply to the Times’ request for “advice,” the great sage comes up with this: "Get out of NATO. Get rid of capitalism. Put the economy back into public ownership." Quite how the last two of those three are to be reconciled with “liberal democracy” or, for that matter, Eagleton’s three homes: a “19th-century Georgian-style row house in Dublin…an apartment in Manchester…and an 18th-century rectory near Londonderry” is never discussed.
But that would be too much to expect from the Times, wouldn't it?
Posted at 03:34 PM
GWB IS TEXAN OF THE YEAR [Rod Dreher]
Today, the Dallas Morning News named our first annual "Texan of the Year." The award went to President Bush -- which seemed to our editorial board like such an obvious choice that we tried hard not to make it. But ultimately, and for reasons set forth in the article, it was impossible to name anyone else. Congratulations to our president, who does us Texans so proud!
Posted at 03:32 PM
LONELY ARE THE BRAVE [John Derbyshire]
A reader: "I agree, a great movie. Aside from the Douglas family's participation, another surprise was the writer, Dalton Trumbo."
Wow, I never noticed that.
Posted at 03:30 PM
HOSTING A MURDERER [Andrew Stuttaford]
Jimmy’s Bronx Café is closing down. From what today’s New York Times has to say it is no loss:
”In 1995, Jimmy's became a center of controversy when Mr. Serrano organized a dinner there for Fidel Castro, who was in New York for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. Cuban groups protested the event, but at the packed dinner Mr. Castro, under heavy security, was warmly greeted and drew laughs from a crowd of about 300.”
So those diners ‘warmly greeted’ a murderer did they? How nice. And they laughed at the tyrant’s jokes too? How sweet. What bastards. As for Jimmy’s, its proprietor should have invited a killer with more class and fewer victims.
O.J. Simpson, perhaps.
Posted at 03:25 PM
NOT GOOD LOOKING AND STUPID [Susan Konig]
Here's my problem with this crocodile feeding stunt. What made me cringe before I even saw the gigantic crocodile to the left in this photo was the way the father was holding the baby. You absolutely cannot hold a one-month old baby without supporting his head. Even without the potential to be eaten by a giant reptile, this kid could have suffered spinal or brain damage.
Posted at 03:23 PM
IMMIGRATION 'REFORM' [Andrew Stuttaford]
Even by the dismal standards of the New York Times, there’s a remarkable nugget of economic short-sightedness contained in today’s lead editorial (on immigration ‘reform’):
“To win support in Congress, Mr. Bush is going to have to be specific enough to let lawmakers know that he is willing to take some of the heat for concrete steps that go beyond pious generalities. He might begin by looking at an intriguing bill offered by Senator John McCain of Arizona and two of his Republican colleagues.
It would create a Web site where employers could advertise jobs, and legal American workers would have the first shot at them. Then the jobs would be open to people trying to immigrate and to illegal immigrants already in the country.”
As described, this is a ludicrous idea that makes sense only if the Times really wants to turn this country into even more of a Gradgrind nation. The solution to the problem of the jobs “that Americans will not do” is not the mass importation of cheap foreign labor, but to increase blue collar wages (any job, however dull or unpleasant, will have a clearing price), or are the editors of the Times too greedy to pay their yardmen, waiters and nannies a little more? It seems so.
Posted at 02:04 PM
CLARK'S ECONOMICS [Jonah Goldberg]
So here's what I will do. In the first place, I believe in 'Buy American'- not only hardware, but software. Everything that's associated with national security we will procure in the United States. (APPLAUSE) Our financial industry, our utility industries, virtually every aspect of American life is controlled in some way by information technology. And we simply can't afford to have that developed abroad in other countries, because you can't tell what's in it. It works but you don't know whether it's got these so called trap doors and other things that could sabotage it at some point. So the essential stuff is, buy American hardware and software. We need to relook the H1-B visa. I'm all in favor of bringing people into this country, but only at fully competitive wage rates. (APPLAUSE) Not bringing people in to take jobs from Americans. (APPLAUSE continuing) And when they come here, I'd like them to stay and become American citizens... I met a man in Manchester the other day from India, he's a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, he came here, started a software company, married an American woman, they're running a serires of Nursing Homes - I congratulate him. It's the American dream. It's a success story. And we're glad to have him. So we want 'em to come but we want them to stay and be with us and put that creativity to work here and keep it in our economy.
Posted at 12:07 PM
TO CLARIFY [Jonah Goldberg]
What I object to is not the prediction that Bush might win in a blowout. What bothers me is the notion that God has told Pat Robertson Bush will win in a blowout. I personally do not believe that Robertson has that kind of two-way relationship with God. If Robertson wants to commit punditry, he's certainly qualified and free to do so. And, as I've said many times, I think it's a healthy and good thing that religious people are interested and involved in politics. If Robertson had said "Bush will win in a blowout because he's a moral man and the American people can see that" I'd have no problem with that -- whether I agreed with it or not. But that's not what Robertson said. He said that God told him Bush would win and, I'm sorry, if God's talking to Robertson, I doubt it's about electoral politics.
Posted at 10:27 AM
MORE ROBERTSON [Jonah Goldberg]
I'm getting a bit of email along these lines:
Jonah, I saw your "Corner" comment about Pat Robertson becoming increasingly embarrassing, and as a religious right wing zealot, I must often concur. But I'm not so sure Robertson's evaluation of how God, Bush, and Election '04 are working out is that far off the mark. Is the prediction of Bush winning a blowout in a walk that far fetched? As to the "blasphemy"; God blessing someone that is a man of prayer yet still makes mistakes is hardly at odds with the Biblical accounts of most men of God. Abraham had problems with the truth and twice tried to protect himself by saying his wife was only his sister and not standing up for her. Yet God blessed him in these encounters and even told Pharaoh to have Abraham pray for him that he might be forgiven for what he almost did due to Abraham's duplicity. And then there's Abraham's cousin, Lot. Sheesh!!! what a screw up! Yet he's listed in the roll call of the faithful men of God in Hebrews 11. Bunch of others in that list were some real rounders too. God's grace and blessings are not given as rewards for our works and accomplishments, but because of His love and desire to bless those whom He chooses. He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. What if another man of prayer runs against Bush? I don't know, it doesn't look to likely though, but I'll let God figure it out if it happens. He can bless both even if one loses and one wins can't he? Don't take this as my being upset with your Pat Robertson remarks, or being offended by your seeing God's blessings differently. I just found your blog on PR and W interesting and hope my view point might be of interest.
Posted at 10:22 AM
OUR COVER [John J. Miller]
The NYT runs a story on Howard Dean's anger and reproduces NR's recent cover of Dean with smoke coming out of his ears.
Posted at 07:23 AM
Friday, January 02, 2004
EARTHQUAKES V GLOBALIZATION [ Jonah Goldberg ]
Old-timers around here might recognize parts of my syndicated column.
Posted at 09:19 PM
RE: THE VOICE OF AUTHORITY [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Not to quibble on such a topic, but how did Andy Garcia wind up in the same category as Lyle Lovett?
Posted at 09:00 PM
CONGESTED [Andrew Stuttaford]
It was always obvious (to anyone other than the hopelessly naïve) that the decision to introduce a ‘congestion charge’ for motorists in Central London owed everything to collectivist malice (the autonomy offered by the automobile has always been highly suspect to socialists) and nothing to any concerns about traffic flow. Here’s more proof.
Posted at 08:58 PM
HOUSE REPUBLICANS GAIN A MEMBER [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Ralph Hall switches parties.
Posted at 08:54 PM
POUND FOOLISH [Andrew Stuttaford]
For a truly delightful example of the voice of Britain's left-wing elite, look no further than one Stephen Pound MP.
"The people have spoken," the Labour MP replied to the programme, "... the bastards."
It was, I believe, the otherwise loathsome Berthold Brecht who made a crack (in the aftermath of the 1953 Berlin rising) about government electing a new people. Stephen Pound would doubtless approve...
Posted at 08:50 PM
EXTRADITING FREEDOM [Andrew Stuttaford]
EU legislation has long since ceased to serve any useful purpose for the people, as opposed to the elites, of its member states. It’s also increasingly becoming little more than a continuous series of betrayals of the national traditions – and liberties - of the countries unfortunate enough to make up Brussels' ‘union’. Here’s another example:
”The new European arrest warrant came into force yesterday, allowing British citizens to be extradited under a fast-track process even if their actions do not constitute an offence in Britain.”
Posted at 08:49 PM
LIES, LIES AND ANTI-SMOKING STATISTICS [Andrew Stuttaford]
Another great moment in statistical analysis by the anti-smoking lobby, this time in the Guardian:
“It is estimated that passive smoking kills at least 120,000 people a year in the UK.”
Needless to say, we are never told by whom this carnage is ‘estimated’. Alert readers will recall that all forms of smoking are usually said to be responsible for 3-400,000 deaths a year in the US out of a population of around 280,000,000. The UK’s population is roughly 60 million. Clearly its passive smoke is peculiarly lethal.
Posted at 08:47 PM
MUSICAL SUBSIDIES [Rick Brookhiser]
The trouble with the hit on the NEA subvention of a musical on Gianni Versace's killer is that such a musical could possibly be good. Emptiness aiming at style and hitting evil instead is not the most interesting subject in the world, but it is interesting.
Posted at 08:46 PM
MORE SEXY BUT NOT GOOD LOOKING [John Derbyshire]
The voice of Authority. Here is a reader in Virginia--obviously a person
Mr. Derbyshire---I happen to be not only a faithful reader of National
Here, then, is my list of people who are sexy, but not good looking.
#1 Jeff Goldblum
Benicio del Toro
Posted at 08:36 PM
RE: SEXY BUT NOT GOOD LOOKING [John Derbyshire]
Who is David Thewlis? I asked. This guy . Looks like a soccer hooligan. Which, I guess, is the point.
Some of my readers are pulling my leg, I think. Keith Richards? Come on.
Posted at 08:34 PM
TODAY'S MEDIA-BIAS READINGS [Tim Graham]
1. Brent Bozell describes what we found after Time's Karen Tumulty called me to complain on Monday that she won a "Best of Notable Quotables" worst-reporting award.
2. Times Watch's Clay Waters remembers the lowlights of the New York Times in 2003.
Posted at 08:32 PM
RE: ROBERTSON [Jonah Goldberg]
From a friend in the movement:
Please know that most of the religious-righties I know aren't paying attention to the Falwells and Robertsons any more. Moral Majority is long dead. Christian Coalition is a barely breathing shell of a group now. But the media singles these two out like they're still adulated by the religious-right grass roots. Please. Better modern hate figures for the ACLU types would be James Dobson, or Chuck Colson.
Posted at 03:54 PM
RE SEXY BUT NO GOOD LOOKING [Jonah Goldberg]
Derb, for the record, many moons and pounds ago, I was voted "sexiest" (and "funniest") by the senior class in high school, and I have the yearbook to prove it. Fortunately, we didn't poll for ugliest.
Posted at 03:45 PM
SUCH NONSENSE [ Jonah Goldberg ]
I think the vast, vast majority of what's said by liberals about the religious right is either ignorant or hateful nonsense. But I find Pat Robertson increasingly embarrassing. From the AP:
"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk," the religious broadcaster said on his "700 Club" program on the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded.
Come on. Isn't this nigh-upon blasphemous nonsense? George Bush can do bad things but God's going to give him the White House because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him? What if another man of prayer runs against Bush? Will it still be a "blowout"?
Posted at 03:38 PM
DERB'S LIST [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I think I expected Jack Nicholson to be high on the list.
Posted at 01:48 PM
SEXY BUT NOT GOOD LOOKING [John Derbyshire]
A few days ago, I invited female readers of NRO to submit celebrity names for the above qualification. Report: We are all over the place here. The only person so far with more than three votes is Tommy Lee Jones. Good grief! As I anticipated, there were several votes for Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, all of which missed the point: I want UGLY guys who are sexy. Rudy Giuliani counts--he's definitely ugly--but only got one vote. Jonah Goldberg got one--no comment. Nobody voted for me, which is distressing. I know I'm ugly; now I also know I'm not sexy. Another crushing blow. And who is David Thewlis?
Posted at 01:37 PM
RETURN OF THE DERB [John Derbyshire]
OK, back in the saddle after family ski vacation. Before tackling the e-mail mountain I thought I'd catch up on The Corner. Couple of points.
Jonah---"Elizabethan collar"? Boris just calls it a ruff. Ruff, ruff.
Conservative movie---Tally one vote for "Lonely are the Brave." I'm not sure why this is conservative, and given the tnedencies of the Douglas family, it has no right to be. All I can tell you is, I am as conservative as you can be without falling off the right-hand end of the bench, and I love that movie.
Mark Steyn on Cole Porter---Shoulda known the Steynmeister would spot that. Well, I SAID I was working from memory. Readers familiar only with Mark's political stuff may not be aware that he also knows absolutely everything about 20th-century showbiz. This side of Mark is seen to best advantage in his theater criticism in The New Criterion . A recent piece, for example, revealed that not only has Mark read everything Frank L. Baum ever wrote, he is also familiar with every single stage adaptation of the Oz stories there has ever been--including eight (I think--I am going on memory again) musicals. He probably knows who did Judy Garland's nails. If "genius of opinion journalism" is a thing it is possible to be, Mark is one. I H-A-T-E him.
Left Behind---The movie version of the Book of Revelation. Saw it (the first movie, that is--there is a whole series) at my host's house. Now, I don't read the Bible--certainly not Revelation--as a fundamentalist, but I am open-minded about the general notion of divine intervention in human affairs, including intervention on the Armageddon scale. Yet I must say. "Left Behind" left me behind, and unimpressed. It--and, I think, all similar scenarios about God stepping in & winding things up--suffer from what the philosopher A.N. Whitehead called "misplaced concreteness." That kind of thing is good (well, average) sci-fi, but it seems to me, in some profound way, unimaginative--like the comic-book vision of Heaven as a sort of sunlit park with folk wandering around in togas smiling at each other. The Divinity, it seems to me, ought to be above sci-fi stunts; and like Dr. Johnson, I think it is pointless to speculate about what things are like in the next world, as it is very unlikely we can imagine that world, even to an approximation.
Dr. Johnson---The wisest man that ever lived. No, that's not quite right; he sometimes contradicted himself and said silly things. (See Macaulay's essay on him for the details.) But his insights into the everyday human condition, on the nature of hope (especially) and desire and motivation, have no parallel that I know of. You know how sometimes someone says something penetrating about life, and you nod and say (or think): "Yep, you nailed it." Johnson was a superb nailer. Nice to see Peter Robinson bring up that "Rambler" quote. But you could open Johnson's works at pretty much any page and come up with something as good. I am a Johnson fanatic from way back, but I have to restrain myself from quoting him--he's TOO quotable, has a word for evey occasion.
OK, enough procrastination. To the Inbox! Happy New Year everybody!
Posted at 01:34 PM
KINSLEY ON PLAME [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Jonah: Note that Kinsley misstates an important point about the Plame affair. He writes, "As you probably know, Novak wrote last July that 'two senior administration officials' had outed a woman named Valerie Plame to him as a CIA agent." Novak wrote no such thing. Kinsley also assumes that his inferences about the motives of whoever spoke to Novak about Plame are indisputably correct, and help to justify the exposure of the sources.
Posted at 12:23 PM
ETHICS V MORALITY [ Jonah Goldberg]
I've been fairly tough on Michael Kinsley of late, so I'm glad to say I thought today's column was really very good. He highlights a personal peeve of mine; the confusion of ethics and morality. Journalistic ethics may always require a reporter to protect his sources, but morality can dictate the opposite. I still don't think the Plame affair is the scandal its boosters claim, though we'll see what comes out. But the notion that doing the ethical thing is always the right thing simply doesn't wash. Kinsley offers a great example of such nonsensical thinking:
A very distinguished New York Times writer once told me that if the Times ballet critic, heading home after assessing the day's offerings of pliés and glissades, happens to witness a murder on her way to the Times Square subway, she has a First Amendment right and obligation to refuse to testify about what she saw.
Posted at 10:22 AM
MICHAEL GRAHAM TRAVELS THROUGH 2003 [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
His predictions were just added to the symposium (inadverdantly left off when first posted). Be sure and check them out.
Posted at 09:45 AM
STEVE MOORE IN THE JOURNAL [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
on Dean and taxes--including on the dead.
Posted at 09:35 AM
TRANSLATOR SPEAKS OUT [Tim Graham]
Posted at 09:30 AM
DISTINGUISHED NORWEGIANS FOR 100, ALEX [Tim Graham]
We love "American Idol" at our house -- it's fairly clean and musical, and you can't miss the people who submit bad auditions to get their fifteen seconds of infamy. What the first two rounds of competition have suggested -- first with Kelly "Baby Got Back" Clarkson and then with geeky Clay Aiken and John Candy-sized Ruben Studdard -- is that Americans can love people who are singers first and the look doesn't have to be direct from the modeling agency.
After all we've settled for Britney (pretty, questionable vocals, but now reduced to slut-whispering) and before that Janet Jackson (great music, but thin voice, the last few albums filled with, you guessed it, slut-whispering).
This trend really took off last night with the results show for "World Idol" on Fox. The winner was Norway's Kurt Nilsen, who, as one judge put it, looks like a hobbit and should be the winner of "Middle Earth Idol." These are mirror-cracking looks! But the boy can sing.
Posted at 09:02 AM
ANOTHER NEA WINNER [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
A $35,000 grant for a musical on the life of Versace's killer. Kudos to Drudge for highlighting.
Posted at 08:55 AM
12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS [NR Staff]
Have you treated yourself or your family or a friend to an NR book?
Posted at 08:46 AM
HAPPY HOLIDAYS? [Tim Graham]
It's too bad I was enjoying the string comments about Christian witness, and then a friend with my sense of the absurd had to highlight how Charles Pierce (yes, that Charles Pierce, Mr. "Quote of the Year" for Kennedy Damage Control) celebrated Christmas Eve with a heaping Baggie of bile on the angst-ridden Alterman blog, as he fussed at David Brooks for suggesting Lieberman take on Dean on the values questions:
"How about we have an election that has nothing to do with 'values.' It's a word that is so overused that it's devoid any more of political meaning. It's a way to gussy up your policy positions with quasi-religious filigree in order to argue that your opponents are not merely wrong, but immoral.
"I think we'd all be better off. Otherwise, we'd have to point out that the Republican First Family is a seething multi-generational conglomerate mass of the Seven Deadly Sins; that several prominent conservative voices have recently been revealed as being courtesans of a crooked media baron; that another one is a pill-popping baby who's using a Kennedy family mouthpiece to sell out the maid he'd used to score his dope; that a prominent conservative philosopher/compiler squandered several times the federal poverty level acting out the famous Aesop fable of The Three Cherries; that the political genius of the Republican Revolution raised wife-dumping to such a high parliamentary art that the lubricious posse he led into Congress followed his lead, and is now so sorely afflicted by Comely Aide Syndrome that their collective matrimonial butcher's bill makes Henry Hyde look like Pius XII, and Hyde had his own problems, as we know.
"Yes, I think the country could do with a rest from "values" for a spell, especially if you're going to campaign against an administration that believes the country should be lied into a war. Merry Christmas."
Posted at 08:43 AM
APPLES FROM ORANGES [Peter Robinson]
From a reader, this correction:
Regarding your post on your computer woes, a correction. Apple does not “design and manufacture all it’s components.” Apple buys commodity parts just like every other computer manufacturer for things like hard drives, CD and DVD drives (I have an Apple G4 with a Pioneer DVD-RW drive, and hard drives from two different manufacturers), video cards, memory, flat screens, etc….What you get for the extra money in a Macintosh is a much more finely engineered set of operating software (well worth the price, in my opinion).
Posted at 08:40 AM
MRS. MINIVER, I'VE FOUND YOU AT LAST [Peter Robinson]
Using the web, as he put it, from "1500 miles away on the Mississippi," a correspondent found copies of Mrs. Miniver in several public library systems right here in Northern California. One of those copies is now on hold for yours truly. Abasshed that the public library never crossed my mind, I am also grateful, yet again, to an amazing reader of this Corner.
Posted at 08:34 AM
Thursday, January 01, 2004
WOW--MAYBE THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING AFTER ALL [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
NYTimes has a breakthrough on the wealthy and charity.
Posted at 05:43 PM
RWR [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
For more, by the way, on how Ronald Reagan changed lives, see Peter's NRO Q&A.
Posted at 05:36 PM
CORNER NOT-SO-HOPPING ALL DAY TODAY [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Well, of course, there's a TZ marathon on the SciFi channel.
Posted at 05:33 PM
CRI DE COMPUTER, CONT’D. [Peter Robinson]
Not long ago Carly Fiorina, chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard, merged HP with Compaq, dramatically expanding HP’s presence in the market for computers used in homes and small businesses. At the time, I thought the move made sense: If you’re going to be in a business, you might as well grab as much of the market as you can. But after working my way through the more than five dozen emails that I received yesterday, I’m beginning to wonder why Fiorna bothered.
One email, I should immediately note, came from Rosemary Shanahan, a “customer advocate” at HP headquarters here in Northern California. Accepting her invitation to give her a call, I quickly learned that Rosemary is
a) articulate and enormously charming, just the right sort of person to place in customer relations,
b) an admirer of Ronald Reagan (she had just finished Reagan: A Life In Letters, Rosemary explained, and intended to turn next to my own book, How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life, all of which I of course took as further evidence of point a)
c) determined to find someone at HP who can solve my problem. “We’ll bring this to a satisfactory conclusion,” Rosemary said. “That’s my promise.”
Rosemary has now assigned my problem to a case worker, from whom, she tells me, I can expect to hear tomorrow or early next week. Whereas the first person in the HP system with whom I spoke--a technician at a call center situated, to judge from the technician’s accent and the bad telephone connection, in India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh--listened to me describe what was wrong with my brand new computer for no more than two minutes before recommending that I exchange it, in Rosemary Shanahan I have found someone with enough loyalty to HP to want to fix the problem.
I’ve also learned that HP is full of such loyal employees. One sent me an email asking me to go easy on Carly Fiorina, arguing that she had inherited the company at a difficult time. Another sent emailed to apologize--apologize, mind you--for all the time I’d wasted working my way through HP’s system for customer support. (When I wrote yesterday’s posting, you may recall, I was on hold. When an HP operator finally answered, she explained that the company was overhauling its telephone lines. Then she cheerfully transferred me to a technician, whereupon, for the third time in a row, I found myself disconnected.) But why is HP in the computer business at all?
Whereas Apple designs and manufactures all its own components, I learned yesterday, HP, like Gateway and Dell, purchases its components from a variety of suppliers--my DVD-ROM drive, for example, was built by Samsung, my DVD+RW drive by Phillips. Managing this process--making certain that the dozens of components in each computer work well with each other and with the thousands of pieces of software with which they might be used--represents an enormously complicated business problem. Providing technical support for tens of thousands of customers represents a second such problem. Dell and Gateway have always been organized specifically to handle these problems. HP, a much older company, has instead had to learn how to handle these problems while continuing to handle the problems in its many other businesses. On the evidence of my inbox, HP has never even come close to succeeding.
Before I retired, one of my jobs in the Army was managing/developing/fielding a training simulation system. I was a $10mil customer of HP. And the customer service I got was no better than what you got.Which brings us back to my original question. Although her company seems to have been doing a mediocre job at best of selling mass-market PCs, Carly Fiorina went to great lengths to increase HPs commitment to the business, merging HP with Compaq. As my brother put it, “They were doing a lousy job in a terrible business--the margins on PCs are razor thin--so Fiorina decided she wanted more?”
I’ll let you know how things go with my HP case worker. And if the delightful Rosemary Shanahan can put me in touch with someone who can make sense of HP’s business strategy, I’ll let you know that, too.
Posted at 05:30 PM
CALLING MRS. MINIVER [Peter Robinson ]
Have now been to two Blockbusters--which is a lot more trouble than it sounds, because I took the kids with me, and each time we enter one of those places they instantly disperse, disappearing as if into catacombs--and neither carried Mrs. Miniver.
Is there some sort of online service where I could finally rent this movie? Since it was Fr. Rutler recommended the movie, I figure that watching Mrs. Miniver will not only prove a satisfying aesthetic experience but help me store up a few merits in heaven.
Posted at 05:22 PM
CHARLIE AND ME [Peter Robinson ]
Yours truly is scheduled to appear this evening on The Charlie Rose Show.
I'll be talking about my book, How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life (I taped the interview this past autumn, not long after the book came out), and I invite all readers of this happy Corner who are not otherwise engaged to tune in--and, for that matter, to let me know how you think I did. (Charlie tried to push me around a little--as is his won't, very skillfully. I did my best to push back.)
The Charlie Rose Show appears at different times in different places, but you'll be able to figure out when the show airs on your local PBS station by looking here.
Posted at 05:18 PM
INVADING SAUDI ARABIA [Kathryn Jean LopeZ]
Posted at 08:51 AM
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM IRAQ [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
IraqtheModel blog: "'In our village, we used to be scared of day just as night
The light no longer promises safety
Fear to us is a five time a day prayer'
Now it's hope that has become our five times a day prayer."
Posted at 08:37 AM
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
FROM A READER IN ARKANSAS [Mike Potemra]
Responding to my post earlier today on Christians in the public square, an evangelical pastor in Arkansas sent me a terrific link to an article by conservative theologian John Piper, who discusses the metaphors of Christians as “salt” and “light” in society: “The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. Where it can, it saves and seasons. And where it can't, it weeps. And the light of the world does not withdraw, saying ‘good riddance’ to godless darkness. It labors to illuminate. But not dominate. . . . We don't own culture, and we don't rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy.” Piper has been called “a staunch five-point Calvinist,” but I think his words will resonate with many people who don’t consider themselves Calvinist at all.
Posted at 10:27 PM
PETER'S CRI DE COMPUTER [Steve Hayward]
Peter should see Dave Barry's online interview with the Washington Post the other day (Transcript here), where he said this:
Washington, D.C.: PC or Mac?
Posted at 03:29 PM
CRI DE COMPUTER [Peter Robinson ]
As I type this I am, as I have been for time on end, on hold, the phone balanced between my shoulder and my head, with a crick developing in my neck that's beginning to throb.
I suppose I should have known better. I went to Costco, and, thinking that by spending more rather than less money I'd be saving myself problems, bought the most expensive HP Pavilion computer that was on offer, a gorgeous system (or so I thought), with a gigantic monitor and an Pentium 4 processor running at 3.0 MHz. Spent a day-and-a-half setting up the machine and loading it up with our software. Yesterday, tug on sleeve.
"Dad, the computer isn't working."
"What do you mean? It's brand new."
"I know. But it still isn't working."
The problem? The kids' favorite game, Warcraft III, refused to boot up. I monekeyed with the computer for a couple of hours, involving my brother in all this by putting the poor man, who knows a lot more about computers than yours truly, on speakerphone, and keeping him there. All that we managed to achieve was the strange state of affairs in which, if you attempted to play Warcraft immediately after rebooting the computer, you do so between two and six times, but never again, instead getting an error message informing you that no CD was in the CD tray, even though there most certainly was.
Then I spent an hour on the telephone with technical support at Blizzard Entertainment, which makes Warcraft, and which is $40 to the better after my purchase of same. The techie had me download this and that patch, none of which work, and finally told me the problem lay in my having old drivers for my DVD-ROM and DVD+RW. The solution? Get in touch with HP. Which I did, instantly getting through to technical support, which is no particular surprise, since by now it was one in the morning. The HP techie listened to my woes for only a moment or two before suggesting that I take the machine back to Costco to have it replaced. Since I'd spent hour on hour setting the machine up in the first place, I went to bed last night feeling a strange combination of anger and fury.
Deciding to give HP one last try this morning, I called 1-800-HP-INVENT. After remaining on hold for 20 minutes, I finally got through to a technician who listened to my trouble, then said he'd transfer me to yet another technician. Ten seconds later, the line went dead. I called HP yet again. Yet again I remained on hold for a good long time. Yet again I got through to a technician, and this one actually sounded especially well-spoken, sympathetic, and determined to help. Five minutes into our conversation, the line went dead.
So here I sit, good readers. My brand-new, putatively slick-as-could-be HP computer has so far cost many, many hundreds of dollars of my extremely hard-earned money and almost two days of my life--two days in which I should have been playing with my kids, making notes on my next book, and, yes, watching Mrs. Miniver.
If anybody at HP technical support reads this happy Corner, would he kindly let Carly Fiornia know that the next time she gives an interview to Forbes or Fortune in which she blithely claims to be turning HP around, at least one of her customers will merely emit a bitter laugh.
Posted at 02:44 PM
PALESTINIANS V. AMERICA [Jonah Goldberg]
Memri has some sobering sermons from Arafat-paid clergy. Link via Instapundit and Windsofchange.net.
Posted at 02:42 PM
UGH [Jonah Goldberg]
I just did CNN with Katrina vanden Heuvel. My wife says I scowled too much while she was talking, making me look like the mean conservative guy. She's probably right. I just forgot what a gift vanden Heuval has for asserting things based on nothing more than her own ideological agenda. She simply asserted matter-of-factly that the Plame affair was another attempt by the Bush administration to punish its enemies, even though A) there's no evidence of that and B) there's no evidence I know of Bush has ever done it any other time either. She tried to get away with saying all Bill Clinton lied about was sex, which she knows is a lie. She said the administration uses these terror alerts to keep the public scared and therefor politically maleable. No evidence or even common sense on her side on that score either. I know I shouldn't be shocked by any of this by now, but sometimes I can't keep my normally cheery disposition.
Posted at 02:10 PM
"A NEW EVANGEL" [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Mike's comments reminded me of an instructive passage I read in First Things recently. It appears toward the end of David Hart's review of the latest volume of Maurice Cowling's history of religion in England's intellectual culture: "Nothing could be more important for an understanding of modernity (even if it is reached through a study only of the intelligentsia of England) than to recognize that we are not living in an age in which religious adherence has simply withered away before the parching wind of Enlightenment reason, but in one in which a new evangel has—over the course of a few centuries—displaced the old, and with it the cultural energy and rationale of Christian Europe: a new religion, whose most devout believers are as zealous, intolerant, and absolutist as any faith has ever produced, and whose vast silent constituency is as unreflective, passive, and pliant as any enfranchised clerisy could desire. It is good for Christians to grasp that, even in this hour, we struggle not simply with disillusion and demystification, but with strange gods."
Posted at 02:00 PM
BAD FOR YOUR LAND, BAD FOR THE CRITTERS [Jonathan H. Adler]
Those with a WSJ Online subscription can access my op-ed on the Endangered Species Act's 30 years of failure here.
Posted at 01:07 PM
AXIS OF SMEAGOL? [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted at 12:18 PM
TV NEWS PREDICTIONS [Tim Graham]
NY Daily News has TV maven predicting NBC will beg Brokaw to stay, CBS will force Rather to go, and MSNBC will have successful prime-time show with Deborah Norville.
Posted at 11:16 AM
CNN [Jonah Goldberg]
Gonna be on around 12:30ish.
Posted at 11:03 AM
ME = SADDAM [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
I find your article about denying Saddam a fair trail to be as close to autocracy as possible. Why should those who helped Saddam gain and hold power and to wage war against other nations not be identified and held account to their crimes?
Posted at 11:02 AM
TEXAS: MORDOR FOR LEFTIES [Rod Dreher]
VDH's excellent current NRO essay speaks of how too many Western intellectuals are blind to the realities of the world around them. I don't know if you'd call the author David Macaulay an intellectual, but he's certainly blind, and has said a very foolish thing. Macaulay, who has drawn and written some very good books for children about architecture, has a new book out about the architecture of the mosque. Fine, great -- but then, in this New York Times interview, he says the following:
"You can always find the fringe element, the guys making a bomb behind the mosque," he said. "You can find the same fringe element behind a right-wing church in Texas. But if you stick to the architecture, what it says about human desire and capability is universal, the desire to extend yourself beyond this life."
Ah yes, all those Baptist madrassas in the piney woods down here are turning out suicide bombers by the bushel. I tell you, we live in constant fear down here in Dallas that an Assemblies of God zealot from the outskirts of Midland is going to blow Neiman Marcus sky-high. What guilty-liberal rot from Macaulay. He should be ashamed of himself.
Posted at 10:49 AM
MAD COW HYSTERIA [Jonathan H. Adler]
David Ropeik dissects media hysteria over mad cow disease. The bottom line: Everything we know suggests the human health risk is negligible. Also recommended is today's column by Holman Jenkins in the WSJ (print edition). Don't worry K-Lo, it's still safe to eat meat.
Posted at 10:26 AM
CAREER KILLER [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Expose French war coverage. An editor for La Croix did just that, and now no longer works for La Croix.
Posted at 09:40 AM
DR. J IN FULL [Peter Robinson]
Quite a few readers have emailed to ask about the Dr. Johnson quotation below. Here it is in full--and just listen to these cadences:
"The great end of prudence is to give cheerfulness to those hours which splendour cannot gild, and acclamation cannot exhilarate; those soft hours of unbended amusement, in which a man shrinks to his natural dimensions, and throws aside the ornaments or disguises which he feels in privacy to be useless incumbrances, and to lose all effect when they become familiar. To be happy at home is the ultimate end of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution."
--Samuel. Johnson, Rambler #68, November 1750
Posted at 09:01 AM
MRS. M AND THE WAR OF CIVILIZATIONS [Peter Robinson]
A deeply-felt--and provocative--note from a reader:
"Do have a box of Kleenex handy for the end of Mrs. Miniver! This truly is one of the best movies ever made, about an idealized England / The West that perhaps never was, but the ideals of a people tell us everything about the culture. A film like Mrs. Miniver could never be made in a Mohammedan country."
The ideals tell us everything about the culture. Very, very nice. Off to Blockbuster.
Posted at 09:00 AM
PARTING WAYS [Mark Krikorian]
Did anyone notice that while Time magazine's "Person of the Year" was "The American Soldier," the "Newsmakers of the Year" in the Canadian edition of Time were Michael Leshner and Michael Stark, the first homosexual couple to legally marry in Canada? I'm not a Canada-basher, but this does tell us something about the different paths our countries are taking, however similar they appear on the surface.
Posted at 08:57 AM
HAPPY NEW YEAR [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Well, it's 2004 in Australia, so best wishes from everyone at NRO to you. Thanks again for your readership, your feedback, and your patience.
Posted at 08:00 AM
MAD-COW HYSTERIA SYNDROME [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I confess that after a week of hearing about “downer” cattle and cow-brain feed, I’m a bit more sympathetic to Matt Scully’s book.
Posted at 07:56 AM
THE CAPTAIN TOKE CAMPAIGN [Tim Graham]
More adventures in L-word avoidance in today's Washington Post, Page A3. Reporter Jonathan Finer explains how Democratic contenders in New Hampshire face questions from pot enthusiasts, bloody-bunny-suited PETA goofballs, socialized-medicine lobbyists, and other assorted radicals without once using the word "liberal" or "left." An academic is allowed to worry that these interest groups represent "the more extreme wings of the parties," but that's about it. The reporter is usually explaining how these activists favor "peace, fair trade, and affordable housing." And a good chemical hallucination or two.
Posted at 07:46 AM
NATION OF ISLAM SUPPORTS MICHAEL JACKSON... [Rick Brookhiser]
...according to the New York Times. But doesn't the Nation of Islam dislike white people?
Posted at 07:40 AM
VERY CLEVER, JONAH [Tim Graham]
My dad owns a share of the Packers, framed on the living room wall. As an owner, he doesn't really get to make any decisions and he's not allowed to sell. I suppose that makes for an even better Dean metaphor.
Posted at 07:36 AM
OTHER CONSERVATIVE MOVIE [Rick Brookhiser]
I believe the other one, besides The Leopard, is The Music Room, by Satyajit Ray. Essentially, it is the same story as The Leopard
Posted at 07:23 AM
CHRISTIANS AND THE CULTURE WAR [Mike Potemra]
What attitude should Christians have to a culture in which there is little organized social support for their values? Evangelical theologian Richard Mouw has a helpful essay on this subject over at Beliefnet. Earlier this year I wrote a positive review (it appeared in the print version of NR) of David Limbaugh’s detailed and comprehensive book Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity , which I recommend as an introduction to the numerous ways Christians are currently treated unfairly in public life. Beliefnet presents Reverend Mouw’s essay as a sort of counterpoint to Limbaugh’s view (they have posted an interview with Limbaugh), but Mouw actually concedes much of what Limbaugh has to say. His difference with Limbaugh is not chiefly on policy, but on our overall theological understanding of the confrontation with secularism: We should, Mouw says, “recognize that in our increasingly pluralistic culture we are called to make our way in—to borrow [a] wonderful phrase from the Mennonites—‘the time of God’s patience.’ God is not calling us to win the cultural wars. What is required is that we remain faithful to our deepest convictions while also showing, as the Apostle puts it, ‘gentleness and respect’ toward those who challenge us to make a case for what we believe (I Peter 3: 15). Obviously, when it comes to matters of public policy we must also ask others to respect our convictions as well—especially our right to raise our children in the fear of the Lord without having the deck stacked against us by educators and the shapers of popular culture.” This is deep wisdom, echoing T. S. Eliot in the “Four Quartets”: “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” As I understand Mouw’s point, he is saying that the Christian facing secularism is not called to be an Atlas bearing the sins of the world, but to be a simple, faithful witness. God doesn’t demand that we “win”; in fact, in the idea of the triumph of the Cross He has broken the limits of our very concept of what “winning” means. All He asks is our trust; and if we have this our hearts will be cheerful indeed—-in the face of opposition, and even of persecution.
Posted at 07:12 AM
IS MARRIAGE A RIGHT? [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Interesting conversations at Maggie Gallagher's marriagedebate.com.
Posted at 06:43 AM
AL QAEDA VIDEOS FOUND IN WEAPONS RAID IN IRAQ [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
How could they have gotten there? Perhaps the content of the videos could provide a revealing answer.
Posted at 06:39 AM
WHAT WE'VE DONE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
From an LATimes oped:
I will always remember the man to whom I'd casually waved, just after the fall of Hussein's regime, in the Shiite slum of Sadr City (formerly Saddam City). He'd been riding a motorcycle looted from Uday Hussein. He waved me over and asked whether I was American. I warily admitted I was, unsure of the consequences of the answer. The man, young but old-looking, with a beard bristly as a pine forest, grabbed my shoulders, snapped me toward him and kissed me. On both cheeks. He smelled of rotten meat and 3-day-old fruit. "Thank you, America," he said. Then he lifted his shirt. A virtual rail yard was etched in scars on his back. His legs were no better. The hair would never grow back where his skull had been split by a lead pipe.
Posted at 04:21 AM
"GOING GLOBAL" [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Important Ponnuru piece.
Posted at 04:12 AM
SOMETHING TO NOTE AND REMEMBER [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
First, it was neither courage nor some sort of Augustinian epiphany that prompted Gadhafi's decision. It was fear. Over the past two years, U.S.-led coalitions in Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated a vital truth of modern warfare: The U.S. has the power to remove by force any individual regime it chooses to focus on. No, we cannot by any stretch remove all enemy regimes, but the message, which evidently reached Gadhafi, is that any tyrant who prefers to avoid a Saddam-style medical exam would be wise to keep his head down, his weapons conventional and his name off the top of the U.S. enemies charts.
Posted at 04:10 AM
VIETNAM DISCONNECTS WRITER [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
An online journalist in Vietnam gets seven years in prison.
Posted at 03:56 AM
OMINOUS PREDICTION [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Safire thinks they'll be a major attack on the U.S. before the election. If so, you know what hatebush.org types will say.
Posted at 03:51 AM
IRAN "DIALOGUE"-CHANGE TALK [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
From the New York Times:
"Humanitarian issues should not be intertwined with deep and chronic political problems," Mr. Khatami said at a news conference in Kerman, the provincial capital. "If we see a change both in the tone and behavior of the U.S. administration, then a new situation will develop in our relations."Unfortunately for Iranians, Khatami is at the heart of the "deep and chronic political problems."
Posted at 03:47 AM
A WORD FOR THE REMAKE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
That conversation continues in the remake [of Sabrina] with Harrison Ford. It had the same effect for me as the reader below:
Posted at 03:19 AM
AT LEAST THAT WAS THE ONLY THREAT [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Drunk woman injures air marshal. Does make one wonder.
Posted at 03:02 AM
THE ANSWER [Andrew Stuttaford]
The greatest conservative movie? Blast From the Past. No question about it.
Posted at 02:56 AM
CORRECTION [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Jonah said earlier I picked something as his "best of" 2003. No, I didn't. Not this year. We (I) decided this year to NOT have "best ofs" mostly because I didn't leave enough space and didn't do a proper tally involving the writers and staff. So, while Jonah or anyone else will certainly have his personal favorites, which could very well be and probably are his best of the year, we're not calling them that on the homepage.
I know, I'm a wimp. So be it.
Posted at 02:47 AM
SHAYS WARNS PEOPLE TO AVOID PACKED PLACES [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
At least he's consistent about never sticking to the partyline.
Posted at 02:42 AM
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
SAVE SPECIES, NOT THE ACT [Jonathan H. Adler]
I am slated to have an op-ed in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal on the 30th anniversary of the federal Endangered Species Act. Here's the quick version: The law is bad for endangered species because it's bad for private landowners. Read the whole thing tomorrow.
Posted at 06:06 PM
MY HIGHLIGHTS [Jonah Goldberg]
Posted at 03:51 PM
MORE JAPAN [Rich Lowry]
Other good news on the Japan-U.S. cooperation front, this time on missile defense. Check out Thomas Lifson’s post here.
Posted at 03:35 PM
ALMANAC WARNING: A DEFENSE [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Jonah - Since you and many others are making fun of the almanac warning (including some silly people - Olberman - and some not silly people - Volokh), I have to put in a bit of a defense. First of all, it's misleading to suggest that cops are now supposed to look around for guys walking down the street carrying almanacs. The idea is that officers who may have already stopped someone in their car or are searching a residence, etc., to keep an eye out for an almanac if there may be other indicia of terrorist activity. So if a guy is stopped for speeding, has sketchy id, is on a visa from Saudi Arabia, and has an almanac, that's something to be aware of. Or say a hotel maid finds some arabic notes left in a room, freaks and calls the cops. Maybe it's innocent, but what if they also find an almanac? Rather like if he had a map of Las Vegas and a flight manual - not nefarious in themselves, or even necessarily together, but worth investigating. A bit more subtly, the alert can also help to provide "reasonable suspicion" or "probable cause" to stop and/or search someone. I currently clerk for a federal judge, and one factor (the factor, really) in determining whether a search or seizure is legitimate is whether the suspect did anything to arouse probable cause that he was involved in a crime. By telling officers that some terrorists may be using almanacs, the government is giving them an extra fact backing up their claim of probable cause to arrest someone who may not have given any other reason to arrest them. (Say our guy from Saudi Arabia above is pulled over for running a red light, but has legit id. The officer would have no reason to arrest him - he could give a ticket for the traffic violation, but not arrest - so he'd be set free. But now, if the guy has an almanac in the seat next to him, perhaps he can be detained, or at least questioned further. I'm not saying the police would necessarily win this case, but at least it would give them a chance to check things out.
Posted at 02:27 PM
RE: PACKER HAT [Jonah Goldberg]
But Tim, the Packers are community-owned, the way everything would be under Dean.
Posted at 02:17 PM
ODD [Jonah Goldberg ]
Posted at 02:03 PM
ALMANACS DON'T KILL PEOPLE.... [Jonah Goldberg]
I'm sorry, but I find this almanac warning to be pretty lame. I mean, sure al Qaeda may use an almanac to figure out where there are major population centers, but I somehow doubt they'll need to keep re-checking it once they've got their plan together. I mean once you know which city you're gonna dive-bomb your plane into, how many more times do you need to recheck the almanac? "Hakim, bring the almanac! We may need to know which states in the Great Satan are the biggest producers of tungsten!"
Posted at 02:02 PM
ASHCROFT [Jonah Goldberg]
Recuses himself from White House leak investigation.
Posted at 01:57 PM
HOWARD DEAN IN A PACKER HAT? [Tim Graham]
I propose that all Democratic presidential contenders (especially Dean, the biggest tax-cut repealer) be banned from wearing insignia worn by professional athletes, since they almost uniformly qualify as the hated "super-rich" that George Bush is pandering to at the expense of everyone else...
Posted at 01:56 PM
I CONFESS... [Peter Robinson]
...to Fr. Rutler (and not for the first time): I've never seen Mrs. Minver. But I'm off to Blockbuster later today--we have a houseful of kids on vacation, and all it seems to want to do out here in California this week is let it rain, let it rain, let it rain--so I'll pick up Mrs. M. and report back. (I'm already well-disposed toward Walter Pidgeon, by the way. When I was researching my Reagan book I had a long talk with Charlton Heston, who said that two of the loveliest presidents of the Screen Actors Guild were RR and...Pidgeon.)
Posted at 01:48 PM
WE ARE NOT AMUSED [Cosmo]
World's largest snake eats 3 or 4 dogs a month.
Posted at 01:44 PM
WELL, THAT TOO [Rich Lowry]
"Rich, Has Wes Clark endorsed "voting for felons" or voting BY felons? The second is bad, but the first is really just normal procedure for a lot of Democrat die-hards. "
Posted at 01:42 PM
CORRECTION [Jonah Goldberg]
Many readers have complained that I misspelled "Padawan" in the announcement section of today's column. However, did it occur to any of you that maybe dogs spell it differently?
Posted at 01:42 PM
LIFE IMITATES ART [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Kevin Cherry notes:
Compare this story from the LA Times with the beginning of this Simpsonsepisode, "The Blunder Years," which was on syndication on FOX-5 [last night] at 7:00:
Posted at 01:15 PM
CONSERVATIVE MOVIES [Jonah Goldberg ]
I'm not ready to say what I think the most conservative movie of all time is because A) I don't know and B) it really depends on what you mean by conservative. I have written a few times (here and here) that I think "A Simple Plan" was the most conservative movie of the last decade and I stand by that. But a few all-time candidates immediately come to mind. In no particular order: "The Man Who Would Be King," "A Man for All Seasons," "Deliverance," "It's a Wonderful Life," "A Face in the Crowd," "On the Waterfront," and "Ride with the Devil."
Posted at 01:07 PM
NEW YEAR'S [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
The "holiday" part ii homepage is up with predictions and more. There are some replays of NRO pieces too--clearly not all-inclusive--if you have any favs you want us to replay in The Corner this week, we'll be linking to some, so send your suggestions along.
Posted at 12:54 PM
ONLY 2 MILLION??? [Rich Lowry]
What’s most amazing in the fundraising numbers that are coming out is that Kerry may have raised in the neighborhood of $2 million, while Dean and Clark raised $10 million or more. What a wash-out.
Posted at 12:33 PM
MORE ON WHY SO MANY IRANIANS DIED [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
The ancient city of Bam, the epicenter of the quake, has a long history of destruction. It was first destroyed in an earthquake almost 1,900 years ago. But such is the unexplainable magnetism of Bam that, almost eight centuries later, it had become an important trading center with a cosmopolitan population of Muslims, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians.
Posted at 12:29 PM
CLARK AND CLINTON [Rich Lowry]
What I found interesting about the new Wes Clark ad that features Bill Clinton is that it doesn’t brag about Clark winning a war in Kosovo, but instead about him negotiating a peace agreement in Bosnia (“Helped negotiate the Bosnia peace accords” is flashed on the screen). That tells us something about what Democrats want to hear – that it is diplomacy instead of force that solves international problems. Of course, the only reason the Serbs sat down at Dayton was that they had been dealt severe blows on the battlefield… Also, Clark has endorsed voting for felons.
Posted at 12:28 PM
GI’S AS MAYORS [Rich Lowry]
A great New York Times story about the deft improvisation our troops have been able to do when it comes to civil affairs in Iraq. One reason they’ve had to do so much of it: the international aid organizations cut and ran. As the Times puts it:
“But military commanders here expressed frustration that most international aid organizations have not returned in force since the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad last summer.
‘The N.G.O.'s have been a disappointment,’ said Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the 101st Division, speaking of nongovernmental organizations. ‘Don't get me wrong, the truck bomb at the U.N. headquarters was horrific. But they seemed as if they were very, very quick to bail out of here, compared to the risks they have run in a variety of other missions.’”
Posted at 12:22 PM
FDA BANS EPHEDRA . . . FOR NOW [Jonathan H. Adler]
The Food and Drug Administration annouced today that it will ban ephedra, a popular dietary supplement used for weight-loss due to health and safety concerns. It is almost certain the ban will be challenged in court, where there is a decent chance the FDA will lose. Whereas drugs and medicines are presumptively banned unless proven safe, the law on dietary supplements puts the burden on the FDA to demonstrate they are unsafe. In the case of ephedra, there is evidence of significant side-effects, but the data on more serious health risks are far from conclusive (as this study on the FDA's website makes clear).
Posted at 12:20 PM
JAPAN COMES THROUGH [Rich Lowry]
Japan is willing to forgive Iraq’s debt to it, if other creditors are willing to do the same. In all the complaints about Bush’s unilateralism, it has gone unremarked that he has a wonderful relationship with Prime Minister Koizumi. Japan is an important country and a crucial ally, but its support for the Iraq intervention has rendered it invisible to all the multilateralist critics of Bush. For them, only the “allies” that oppose us are important. Meanwhile, James Baker seems to be doing a fantastic job on the debt-relief front. Maybe Bush should keep him on as a permanent roving ambassador to advocate for the administration’s positions abroad, since it often seems difficult for Bush to get that kind of work out of the State Department.
Posted at 12:16 PM
MORE PAKISTAN [Rich Lowry]
Also a great article in the Times about the way Musharraf has been attempting to straddle between the U.S. and the Islamists, who are busy trying to kill him. How deeply confused is the Pakistani government? Check out this passage about one of the would-be assassins:
“Investigators say one of the bombers may have been Muhammad Jamil, 23, a jihadi, or holy warrior, from Pakistan-held Kashmir, according to a report in the newspaper Dawn. He also fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Mr. Jamil was captured in Kabul, Afghanistan, and in March was turned over to Pakistani authorities. The intelligence services interrogated him and declared him "white" — not a threat to the state — and released him.
Mr. Jamil was associated with a hard-line Kashmiri militant group, Jaish-e-Muhammad. That group has been banned but its founder, Maulana Masood Azhar, was still making pro-jihad speaking tours as recently as October. Mr. Azhar was one of three men freed from Indian jails in exchange for a planeload of hostages hijacked in 1999.
Other lines that General Musharraf sought to draw among extremist groups have also been blurred by the militants themselves. A senior Western intelligence official said recently that Laskhar-e-Taiba, a fundamentalist group believed to have been set up by Pakistani intelligence to fight in Kashmir, appeared to have been providing training to cadres of both Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant group also active in southeast Asia.”
Posted at 12:12 PM
ROVE TO MCAULIFFE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted at 11:41 AM
THE CORNER'S CLERGYMAN ON THE BEST CONSERVATIVE MOVIE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
From Fr. George Rutler: “In discussing the greatest conservative film of all time, it is depressing to realize how limited is most people's current frame of reference. There can be no question: the greatest was "Mrs. Miniver." How could it not be, with Greer Garson and Dame May Whitty and Walter Pidgeon? Six Oscars in 1942 ain't bad, to use the venerable Elizabethan contraction. Among its other attributes, Churchill said it was worth six divisions in winning the war.
PS It was based on the book by the young Jan Struther, who was also a fine hymnographer. "
Posted at 11:39 AM
ON BLOGGING [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
From Terry Teachout: "Take it from one who's spent his entire adult life writing for and editing newspapers and magazines: except for politicians, journalists as a group are the most self-important people in the world. That's why some of them are so horrified by blogging, and go out of their way to knock it. They don't like the idea of a level playing field for opinion. They like it much better when theirs are the only opinions in play. And now they're out of luck. As Rodgers and Hammerstein might have put it, ain't that too damn bad."
There is more here.
Posted at 11:16 AM
I WISH I HAD THOUGHT OF THAT ONE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
A (female) reader e-mails:
I vote for the original "Sabrina." It has a remarkable scene which actually had me staring, open-mouthed at the screen. In the movie the younger, playboy brother asks his hard-working square brother why he works so hard. The answer is a distillation of how the capitalist system raises people's standards of living and improves life. By building a new factory, he employs more people, more people can afford medical care for their kids, better housing, better food, etc.
Posted at 10:42 AM
THAT'S MS. BILLIE [Tim Graham]
Also from yesterday's MRC cyberalert, You might also like the item on Katie Couric fussing with Time last week about why there was no woman on their Person of the Year cover honoring The American Soldier. Um, Katie, that meaty, masculine figure in the center holding a gun is a woman. Oh. "I couldn't tell because of her helmet," Katie pleaded. BTW, inside the magazine you learn the woman (to add to the gender confusion, her name is Billie) is a medic, but it wouldn't seem very feminist to have her holding a stethoscope on the cover.
Posted at 10:30 AM
FACE THE WEIRD NOTION [Tim Graham]
Here's a weird political analysis: Bush is a divider, but Howard Dean is a uniter? On Sunday, CBS "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer portrayed Bush as a divider, calling him “a polarizing politician,” but hailed Dean as a uniter. Schieffer trumpeted how Dean “is a hit at this point” because “he seems to be the first Democrat who's found a way to bring new people into the process here. He's found a new kind of participatory politics....Dean has gone into the Internet and begun to bring people together.”
Dean has united only the Bush-haters. Could you imagine if in 1996, the Republican presidential field had included a hard-core, outsider, Clinton-bashing candidate on the order of Dean, that Schieffer would have hailed him as a "uniter"?
Posted at 10:28 AM
VIGUERIE FOR DEAN [Tim Graham]
In the Washington Times today, Stephen Dinan reports some conservatives are growing tired of Bush. "I'm hearing a lot of anger," says Richard Viguerie. "I'm beginning, for the first time, [to hear] people talk about 'it would not be the worst thing in the world if Howard Dean were president,' because the size of government would stay still rather than increase 50 percent under a second Bush administration."
How insane is that statement? A conservative would wish Howard Dean on the country? And think Hard-Left Howard would hold government growth to zero? There are aspects of the Bush presidency that are maddening, from the lack of spending restraint to the lack of public advocacy for social conservatism. But really, no one should be wishing Howard Dean on Vermont, let alone the other 49 states.
Luckily, Dinan lets all the nuances in, noting that Viguerie said some of the same things about Ronald Reagan in 1983.(On the Bush family front, I'd add Viguerie wrote a tough little book with Steven Allen about Bush the Elder's unease with conservatives in the early 1990s titled "Lip Service.") Dinan adds that Bush's approval rating within the GOP is high, and one conservative quoted notes that D.C. conservative leaders are probably feeling more jaded than the rally-around rank and file.
Posted at 10:25 AM
POOR MONICA [Jonathan H. Adler]
Ms. Lewinsky's application for reimbursement of attorney's fees under the Independent Counsel Act was denied this morning.
Posted at 10:24 AM
THE BLAME FOR BAM [Clifford D. May]
Yes, there’s been a terrible tragedy in Iran. But the politically incorrect truth is that this was not simply a “natural disaster” or an ‘act of God.” The earthquake that hit the eastern part of that country on the last weekend in 2003 need not have taken tens of thousands of lives. It was no secret that the region was prone to earthquakes. It is no secret that un-reinforced mud-brick buildings would, in case of a severe temblor, bury people alive. The leaders of a poor country could claim that they hadn’t the resources to do anything about that -- that they could not, for example, afford to reinforce existing structures or build new structures that could withstand temblors. But Iran is oil-rich and has had plenty of money to lavish on nuclear weapons programs and on such terrorist groups as Hezbollah. Were Iran a democracy, its mullahs would be held to account, at least at the ballot box.
Posted at 10:17 AM
FALUN GONG MEMBER DIES IN CHINESE PRISON [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted at 10:15 AM
SYRIA AND IRAQ [Jonathan H. Adler]
One of the more interesting tidbits in the LA Times story K-Lo noted below: Among the military equipment Iraq sought were "nerve agent antidotes." Funny thing for Iraq to want if they didn't have WMD.
Posted at 09:58 AM
DOROTHY AND DR. J. [Peter Robinson]
All right, Rick, I'll bite: What is the other other greatest conservative movie of all time?
My own nominee, incidentally, would be The Wizard of Oz. The moral of the movie, of course, is that--and here one must picture Dorothy clicking the heels of her ruby slippers as she repeats the phrase three times--"There's no place like home." Dorothy's sentiment neatly echoes the famous pronouncement of that magnificent conservative, Dr. Johnson: “To be happy at home is the ultimate end of all ambition….”
Posted at 09:36 AM
DON'T BREAK OUT IN KUMBAYA YET [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
W. is much more Texan than Bobo...I wouldn't put money on that fantasy warm-and-fuzzy embrace. Besides, Dean would have had to leave early when he got ticked about the bike path outside.
Posted at 09:35 AM
STICK TO THEOLOGY, BISHOP WRIGHT [Mike Potemra]
While we’re on the subject of religion, let me call attention to the offensive and silly comments of the Anglican Bishop of Durham, England, about Tony Blair and the Iraq war. The Guardian reports that Bishop Tom Wright said the following: “For Bush and Blair to go into Iraq together was like a bunch of white vigilantes going into Brixton to stop drug dealing. This is not to deny there's a problem to be sorted, just that they are not credible people to deal with it.” Point One: There was, before Bush and Blair acted, a conspicuous lack of action by any people—“credible” or otherwise—to depose the dictator and thus relieve the torment of the oppressed Iraqi people. Point Two: A bishop should not need to be reminded about original sin, and the fallible nature of all human beings. Whatever moral or political baggage Wright wishes to impute to Bush and Blair should not be counted against what they did—which remains morally correct, indeed courageous, and a major contribution to the well-being of mankind. Point Three: Bishop Wright is the author of one of the very best books of the year a learned and engaging exposition of the rational grounds for belief in the Resurrection of Christ. His foray into geopolitics is embarrassing; he should leave this kind of left-wing twaddle to its natural propagators—which is to say, clergymen who have nothing interesting to say about religion.
Posted at 09:30 AM
DAVID BROOKS UNDERSTANDS AMERICA [Mike Potemra]
Brooks shows yet again, on today’s NY Times op-ed page , that he is one of the most perceptive observers of the American scene. “Nearly 200 years ago,” he points out, “Alexis de Tocqueville was bewildered by the mixture of devout religiosity he found in the U.S. combined with the relative absence of denominational strife, at least among Protestants. Americans, he observed, don’t seem to care that their neighbors hold to false versions of the faith.” And Brooks offers a sensible explanation: “[It’s] because many Americans have tended to assume that all these differences are temporary. In the final days, the distinctions will fade away, and we will all be united in God’s embrace.” The entire op-ed deserves attention, but I was especially impressed by Brooks’s closing lines: “If George Bush and Howard Dean met each other on a political platform, they would fight and feud. If they met in a Bible study group and talked about their eternal souls, they’d probably embrace.” Now, I am both a) strongly committed to re-electing President Bush next year, because I think he’s doing a fantastic job; and b) just as firmly convinced that electing Howard Dean would set off a number of disasters in foreign policy, defense policy, and economic policy (for starters). But you know what? I think Brooks is right in what he says about that hypothetical Bible-study group. And that says some really good things about our country.
Posted at 09:26 AM
IRAQI BLOGGER POETRY [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted at 02:44 AM
SYRIA ARMED IRAQ? [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Seems to be a paper trail. See Latimes story.
Posted at 02:41 AM
Monday, December 29, 2003
BET YOU'D LIKE TO TAKE THAT BACK [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
"All of us artists want to be like Michael."--Beyonce Knowles, in a commercial previewing CBS's Michael Jackson special later this week.
Posted at 09:06 PM
BEGGING COMMENCES [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Rick, the e-mails are rolling in. The likes of: "I thought I was so embarrassingly ignorant not to know what the other movie was. I didn't want to ASK!! Would love to know, though."
The e-mailers who felt you unfairly dissed the Lord of the Rings movies, however, use words I cannot reprint.
Posted at 06:50 PM
LOTR IS RACIST?!? [Jonathan H. Adler]
Glenn Reynolds is on the case, quoting Jonah.
Posted at 05:54 PM
SO NO ONE WANTS TO KNOW [Rick Brookhiser]
...what the other greatest conservative movie of all time is?
Posted at 05:33 PM
PARENTAL NOTIFICATION [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
A NH judge has struck down the states's parental notification law. The judge evidently wants a health of the mother exception,--I wouldn't be shocked if he wanted a broad one.
Posted at 04:29 PM
GREAT MINDS.... [Jonah Goldberg ]
I see that Glen Reynolds pretty much made my exact same point about journalists and guns and he did it before me.
Posted at 04:19 PM
CANINE TRIVIA [Jonah Goldberg]
I was going through some receipts and other junk on my desk. I found a receipt from the vet for Cosmo's lampshade cone collar thingy -- you know the thing that keeps him from chewing on himself? Anyway it turns out there's a technical name for it that Derb might find amusing. They actually call it an "Elizabethan collar." I can understand why, but I find it pretty amusing that this is probably the last non-ironic or kitschy use of the term. Then again, I'm sure that by saying this I will be deluged with examples of other usages.
Posted at 04:17 PM
FODDER [Jonah Goldberg]
I don't write about guns much, but this seems like awfully rich fodder for Dave Kopel or others who do. The New York Times and others are vexed over whether journalists should be armed in war zones. Considering the earlier post about how Baghdad is safer than New York, shouldn't the real question be "Why shouldn't journalists (or plumbers or accountants) in New York (or Washington or Los Angeles) be armed?" Of course, the New York Times policy on that is quite clear.
Posted at 03:45 PM
MY RESTRAINT [Jonah Goldberg]
I think it is a huge tribute to my self-control and an even bigger tribute to the terrifying power of the suits -- and my fear of their wrath -- that I have not once made a joke joining Jack's pitches for NR's (wonderful) children's books and Michael Jackson.
Posted at 03:37 PM
RE: HE LIED [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Posted at 03:35 PM
CANADIANS WE LOVE [Rod Dreher]
Toronto resident Kathy Shaidle, who publishes one of the liveliest religion-and-pop-culture blogs on the web, knocks it out of the park today with a Dallas Morning News column explaining why she loves America -- and why Canadians who don't are morons. "I am a recovering liberal," she writes, "and September 11 is my dry date." Kathy says now that she's "on the right side of history, but on the wrong side of the border."
Posted at 03:27 PM
DON'T MISS BYRON ON SOROS [Tim Graham]
Posted at 03:24 PM
ABOVE THE BLEEPING AESTHETIC? [Tim Graham]
NRO columnist Meghan Cox Gurdon's complaint about NPR's morning airing of vulgarity is addressed by NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin. He reports about a soundbite of actor Ned Beatty taking the Lord's name in vain in a Tennessee Williams play on NPR's "Morning Edition." NPR producer Neva Grant replied:
"I was aware that this might be offensive to some of our listeners, but was also aware that bleeping, or "whiting out" the three words might cause equal offense, as they would blunt the dramatic impact of the scene, and diminish our listeners' sense of Beatty's grasp on the role. Since so much of the ensuing interview was about voice, and the importance of Williams' language, I elected to leave in all the words. One could also argue that unlike a rap song or TV comedy routine -- Williams' work is so widely known and respected -- it rises above the aesthetic of 'bleeping.'"
Let's see if the FCC adds this notion to its strange notion that rock stars can use "F-ing" as an "adverbial intensifier" on television. Swearing's okay, as long as it's written by an esteemed dramatist...
Posted at 03:22 PM
THERE'S NEVER A BAD TIME TO GET CHILDREN GOOD BOOKS [Jack Fowler]
The day after Christmas brought us much joy and happiness, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, which ran the following item about our acclaimed children's books in the "Review and Outlook" section of the Weekend Journal. Indulge us and read ...
Once upon a time, in the days before Japanese animation, there was St. Nicholas--the magazine, not the jolly man in the red suit. As we pick our way through GameCubes and PlayStations under our trees this Boxing Day, we may find it hard to credit that there was a time (from 1873 to 1940, to be precise) when the arrival of the latest issue of St. Nicholas occasioned the same sense of excitement now reserved for the latest Harry Potter sensation.Wow. Why not take the sage publication's advice by introducing a child to great literature that will help him grow into good adult: You can order NR's kids classics books (as well as our other great titles) here. Many thanks--especially to the thousands of you who ordered NR books these last few weeks!
Posted at 02:46 PM
"THE BROOKLYN WAY" [Rod Dreher]
It's so great to have Peggy Noonan writing regularly again. Here are her thoughts on the "creche menace" (the phrase is Michael Kinsley's), and how people in Brooklyn are far less uptight about public expression of religious belief than are Manhattanites. Peggy says we need more Brooklyn in America. Full disclosure: She writes in this piece about my wonderful old parish in Brooklyn. By the way, here's a piece I wrote in Sunday's Dallas Morning News, paying tribute to one of the best Catholic churches and best priests in America, right here in Dallas -- and both these parishioners and their fine pastor could use a miracle right now.
Posted at 02:42 PM
HOW COULD DERB? [Mark Steyn]
John has disgracefully mangled Cole Porter's rhyme. It should be:
You're The Top!
Posted at 02:33 PM
DOWNGRADING EXPECTATIONS IN IRAQ [Rich Lowry]
This story in the Washington Post yesterday about how the insurgency has ruined our more ambitious plans for Iraq is a useful corrective for some of the post-Saddam capture happy-talk.
Posted at 01:13 PM
DEAN’S COMPLAINT [Rich Lowry]
Howard Dean is complaining again about the Washington establishment – that it’s not doing enough to protect him! His call on Terry McAuliffe to come to his aid is another attack on the party establishment disguised as an appeal for party unity. Pretty tricky. Dean is right, of course, that the kind of attacks being leveled against him, questioning his basic fitness for office, could be very damaging in the general election. I think there is some small chance that amid all the negativity John Edwards, who is staying above the anti-Dean fray and is relatively optimistic and upbeat, could make a late surge. It often happens that when two candidates are knocking the hell out of each other, or in this case one candidate and the rest of the field, the guy who has stayed out of the fight can sneak up the middle. It may not be likely, but there’s a chance. At least Edwards is doing shrewd niche marketing.
Posted at 01:05 PM
FAKE KICKS [Rich Lowry]
A propos of nothing, it was a great Sunday for fake kicks. How often do you see a fake field goal/quick punt, let alone see it work the way it did in the Indianapolis game yesterday? And Pittsburgh’s fake punt for an 80-something yard touchdown last night was amazing…
Posted at 01:04 PM
THE GLOVED ONE [Jonah Goldberg]
There's still time for him to leave the country. Though now that Bush has declared a war on the international sex trade, a lot of the "best" spots are gone.
Posted at 01:01 PM
POSER ALERT [Rich Lowry]
That would be me. I have written a glowing “Return of the King” column even though I’m a latecomer to the whole LOTR thing. I had to ask Jonah a bunch of questions just to make sure I wasn’t messing something up. I think I made him very nervous when I asked: “Gandalf is a wizard, right?”
Posted at 12:59 PM
"TWO LS IN HALLIBURTON [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Answer: Because I wanted to get the L out of here?
Posted at 12:59 PM
LOTR IS RACIST [Rich Lowry]
Just wanted to be one of the guys...
Posted at 12:40 PM
JONAH AND THE GLOVED ONE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
By the way, in Dec. 2002, Jonah predicted that in 2003: “Michael Jackson will permanently leave the United States to avoid criminal prosecution, earning him the nickname ‘Skinny Arbuckle.’” Bet Jackson wishes he read NRO.
Posted at 12:30 PM
CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE: KATE CALLED DEAN [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I was amused watching Capital Gang Saturday as Bob Novak and Mark Shields confessed how Dean surprised them in 2003:
SHIELDS: I think the biggest surprise, certainly to me in 2003, was Howard Dean. I mean, all the smart money counted him out, all the Washington wiseguys said he didn't have a chance. And because he dared to stand up to President Bush's preemptive war in Iraq, he won himself a constituency and ardent supporters who are not only willing to knock on doors but to write checks in unmatched numbers. I think Howard Dean was my surprise.Kate O’Beirne couldn’t join that shocked bandwagon—she predicted Dean’s rise on NRO about this time last year: “It is already pretty clear that Gov. Howard Dean will be the media's pet in the Democratic field next year.” How’s that for smart money? (Truth be told, Kate didn’t do too bad all around in her predictions).
Posted at 12:29 PM
TINFOIL HEAD [Jonah Goldberg ]
Several readers believe/hope/pray I actually made up the email I posted last night. Nope it was real -- and far more typical than a lot of you folks would like to believe. Anyway, here's the guy's "newsletter."
Posted at 12:18 PM
HALIBURTON [Jonah Goldberg]
The New York Times comes around to the no doubt reluctant conclusion that Haliburton didn't get a sweetheart deal in Iraq. Hat tip to Dan Drezner, subbing for Andrew Sullivan. But you could have read that in greater detail in Byron York's excellent cover story in the current NR, assuming you subscribe (i.e. assuming you're not on crack).
Posted at 12:12 PM
BAGHDAD V. NYC [Jonah Goldberg ]
Derb - That's indeed great news. But I was more shocked to learn that the New York City subway system is now the safest major system in America and, I'd bet, one of the safest in the world considering the rise in crime in Europe.
Posted at 12:08 PM
LAST ON ROTK [Jonah Goldberg]
I've finally gotten around to reading Jonathan Last's thumbs-down review of the Return of the King at the Weekly Standard's website (where you can still find my review of Human Accomplishment by the way). I think he makes some good points and, as I mentioned in my review, I agree with him on the pacing issue. ROTK definitely feels rushed. And I think he's probably right about how many reviewers are overcompensating for their dismissive attitude towards the first two installments. But I think Last is mistaken when he confuses the seriousness of the last installment -- notably Aragorn's loss of humor -- with failed writing. These are dark times in Middle Earth and the opportunities for levity should rightly be fewer. Indeed, I think that's Lat's biggest mistake over all. Seeing each movie as an independent film. They weren't shot that way or written that way. And I suspect that when seen as one giant 14 hour movie (especially with the restored scenes in ROTK which I hear from reliable sources are awesome) a lot of Last's critiques will seem misplaced.
Posted at 11:57 AM
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE [Jonathan H. Adler]
David Rivkin & Lee Casey on the right way to prosecute criminals under international law.
Posted at 11:46 AM
RE: SIR OSWALD MOSELY [John Derbyshire]
Sensitivity certainly wasn't his strong point. There was much hilarity when he brought out an autobiography titled MY LIFE. Among the English, the exclamation "My life!" is regarded as exclusively Jewish--the U.S. equivalent would be "Oy vey!"
Posted at 11:46 AM
UM... [Jonah Goldberg]
I posted that an hour ago. Great minds.
Posted at 11:40 AM
IS LORD OF THE RINGS RACIST? [Jonathan H. Adler]
This guy thinks so. Then again, he also labels President Bush a "homicidal maniac" and blames the persistence of pollution and disease on "the simple fact that the Freemasons and the Church have not yet let go of the death grip they have on each other's throats."
[Oops! Just saw Jonah already linked to this one.]
Posted at 11:29 AM
YOU'RE THE TOP [John Derbyshire]
Jonah: It is not well known but Cole Porter, for the amusement of his friends, composed risque lyrics to several of his hit songs. For "You're the Top," for example, he supplied the following (I am relying on my memory here, and have bowdlerized two nouns, one plural, one singular, thereby destroying an important rhyme): "You're the top, You're a vodka tonic, You're the top, You're a high colonic. You're the steaming heat of a bridal suite in use. You're the boobs of Venus, You're King Kong's member --- You're self-abuse!"
Posted at 11:27 AM
BAGHDAD NOW SAFER THAN NEW YORK [John Derbyshire]
Baghdad's murder rate is now lower than that of major U.S. cities, according to the New York Post.
Posted at 11:25 AM
FOR THE LADIES [John Derbyshire]
Ellen Barkin was the easy winner of the sexy-but-not-pretty female-celebrity contest I launched some months ago. Following my remarks about Alan Bates, and with some trepidation (my e-mail inbox was clogged for days last time), I am open to nominations from NRO's female readers for sexy-but-not-good-looking MALE celebrities.
Posted at 11:16 AM
RE: OSWALD [Tim Graham]
My NR-lovin' buddy in Milwaukee e-mailed to share electronic high-fives for our Green Bay Packers sneaking into the playoffs (Pack Attack!), but added this reply to Derb's question "How many people under the age of 80, even in Britain, have even heard of Sir Oswald?" Literate, but leftish alt-rock star Elvis Costello wrote about Mosley on his classic track "Less Than Zero," and my friend notes he's "still not even 50, let alone 80." (He'll turn 50 in August.)The song begins: "Calling Mr. Oswald with the swastika tattoo..."
Posted at 11:06 AM
JACKSON LIED [Jonah Goldberg]
I watched the 60 Minutes interview because I'm of the few pundits willing to say I think this is a real story. And because I like a good freak show as much as the next guy.
Regardless, Jackson lied on at least two points last night. First, he says he was so severely roughed-up when he was handcuffed that he now can't lift his arm more than a foot or so. That's nonsense since he gave that victory salute after he left the station house.
Second, he says he was "manhandled." Doesn't that require being a man?
Posted at 11:06 AM
TALK RADIO UNDER THE RADAR [Tim Graham]
NY Times media reporter Jim Rutenberg studies Bush campaign's use of "Republican-friendly radio" -- as opposed to Democratic-friendly TV network news? The only quibble would be the use of Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who, despite her laudable work showing that talk radio listeners are smarter than Dan Rather thinks, is a bit of an Iron Rolodex pick as an expert. Are there any other academics out there studying talk radio and politics?
Posted at 11:05 AM
THE JACKSON 60 MINUTES INTERVIEW [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
The Sunday after Christmas--who could sit down and watch it, really? Not shocking the ratings were low.
Posted at 11:04 AM
THE FIGHTING WILL GO ON [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Andrew Apostolou: "Talk of increasing Sunni representation in Iraqi institutions and "national reconciliation" is misguided. There is no purely political approach to make the insurgents lay down their arms. They are fighting because of who they are, what they believe and what they have done. For the Sunni Arab Ba'athists, this will be a fight to the finish, but it is a battle that Americans and free Iraqis can win. "
Posted at 10:51 AM
HERE WE GO AGAIN [Jonah Goldberg]
The Lord of the Rings is
Posted at 10:39 AM
WODEHOUSE, FASCISM, MOSLEY [Jonah Goldberg]
Interesting stuff, though I have no doubt that many a lefty blogger will try to twist all of this into National Review's nostlagia for Fascism. Since, that can't be helped, I might as well join in. I'm working on a book about Fascism, as some of you know, but I haven't spent too much time on Mosley, largely because he's pretty perepheral to the stuff I'm interested and partly because he seems to have been a crank. But if you're interested, here's a site dedicated to the man
"You're the nimble tread of the feet of Fred Astaire
There's some debate on what exactly Wodehouse changed the lyrics to. But the most famous is:
You're The Top
Another version includes, "You're A Mussolini/You're Mrs. Sweeney.
Mrs. Sweeney was the wife of a famous English amateur golfer by the name of Robert Sweeney. The relevance of the allusion is beyond me.
Posted at 10:36 AM
RE: SIR OSWALD MOSLEY [John Derbyshire]
A reader suppies the reference. Notice the eyes:
Yes, he was, in The Code of the Woosters. Check it out:
"Don't you ever read the papers? Roderick Spode is the founder and head of the Saviours of Britain, a Fascist organization better known as the Black Shorts. His general idea, if he doesn't get knocked on the head with a bottle in one of the frequent brawls in which he and his followers indulge, is to make himself a Dictator."
"Well, I'm dashed! I thought he was something of that sort. That chin... Those eyes... And, for the matter of that, that moustache. By the way, when you say 'shorts,' you mean 'shirts,' of course."
"No. By the time Spode formed his association, there were no shirts left. He and his adherents wear black shorts."
Bertie later gives Sir Roderick him his comeuppance, saying:
"The trouble with you, Spode, is that because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of halfwits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone. You hear them shouting 'Heil Spode!' and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: 'Look at that frightful ass Spode, swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher!'"
And, indeed, his weakness, deftly exploited, is--as Jeeves learns--Spode is the secret proprietor of Eulalie Soeurs, designer and vendor of ladies' undergarments. ----------
[Translator's note: "footer bags" = soccer shorts.]
Posted at 10:29 AM
RE: ALAN BATES [John Derbyshire]
Several reders have pointed out that the late Sir Alan Bates was born in... Derbyshire!
Bates seems to illustrate the male side of the "pretty but not sexy" business I raised in a column some months ago. I always thought him an extremely attractive man, and supposed that if I were a woman, I would have some serious fantasies about him. Yet on the odd occasion I have raised this topic with women, I have got blank stares in return. "Alan Bates? No, nothing special. Why would you think that?...." It's an aspect of the Mars-Venus thing. Women generally have no clue what kind of woman men find attractive, and vice versa.
Posted at 10:27 AM
SIR OSWALD MOSLEY MEETS ALAN BATES [John Derbyshire]
Funny how everything is connected.
Sir Roderick Spode was apparently just Roderick Spode; but he was later elevated to the peerage as Lord Sidcup.
Sidcup (a nondescript town in the SE of England) is also the place the tramp was forever headed to in Harold Pinter's play The Caretaker, the movie version of which featured Alan Bates as (I think) the landlord). It is something of a joke town, like Cleveland or Podunk.
Bates did not, by the way, play Harry Flashman in Royal Flash. He played Rudi von Sternberg. Many readers e-mailed to set me straight on this. Thanks to all.
Posted at 09:45 AM
RE: SIR OSWALD MOSLEY [John Derbyshire]
A reader in California, having declared himself to be 64 years old, tells me of his having met Sir Oswald Mosley:
"I was introduced to him at a dinner in Victoria Street London to which I had been invited by a high-school friend. ... Mosley radiated a very powerful personal magnetism which could be felt, was physically imposing. He shook hands with a vise-like grip, and his eyes (though smiling in this case) projected the same charged hypnotic intensity as Hitler's (heard first-hand from my boarding-school head-master who had been an objective observer at a Nuremberg rally).
"Considering the staggering mediocrity of MacDonald, Baldwin, and Chamberlain, the marginalization of Mosley and Churchill as natural leaders in the thirties is a great indicator of Britain's already far-advanced decline. However, Mosley would have been a disaster and Churchill a political saviour. Destiny determined otherwise, Regulation 18B and the Isle of Man for one, sole defender of Western Civilization for the other.
"...And here we are today - where the Left is so hate-filled and so deranged that it hurls the insult at you that you are Mosley. The idea is ludicrous on its face, reflecting on the ignorance of anyone making it. Real Clear Politics today has a link to a piece (Zev Chafets) on the insulting attitudes of NE liberal towards Southerners, and another which talks about the frenzied asinine leftists shrieking that Republicans are Hitler, Goebbels, etc, so you are in good company. To be attacked by such people is a mark of distinction to be worn proudly."
Posted at 09:42 AM
CASH [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
"I don’t think that it’s too much of a stretch to say that in Johnny’s death a little bit of what is best about America died, too." A Baylor prof on Johnny Cash.
Posted at 09:37 AM
ON DEFENDING SADDAM [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
An Iraqi blogger on Jordanian lawyers volunteering to to defend the Butcher of Baghdad:
It was announced today that 600 Jordanian Lawyers have volunteered to defend Saddam Hussain. So it is SH that needs defending, the poor guy. These people know more than anybody else the crimes and atrocities and the damage, which this maniac has caused. They know that much better than any westerner. They know more than anybody else about the mass graves, the torture and mayhem. They know, and they don’t care. In fact they seem to sympathize with what has been done to the Iraqi people.
Posted at 09:32 AM
Sunday, December 28, 2003
ALAN BATES, RIP [Rick Brookhiser]
I second John on Alan Bates's performance in Far From the Madding Crowd. It is an excellent movie, one of the very few book adaptations which is both faithful to its original's spirit, and of comparable impact. (I was sufficiently unimpressed by The Fellowship of the Ring to skip the other two. My very favorite adaptation: The Leopard, with Burt Lancaster as the Prince--incidentally, one of the two most conservative movies of all time.) All the acting in Far From the Madding Crowd was splendid, the settings beautiful, the bits of folk music deeply moving. The only off note was Julie Christie's eye-liner and white lipstick, which by now seems an endearing bit of early late twentieth century period flavor.
Posted at 10:37 PM
WODEHOUSE'S MOSLEY [Steve Hayward]
Derb: The Wodehouse character based on Oswald Mosley that your reader is looking for is Sir Roderick Spode. In one speech, Spode proclaims to his brown-shorted cadre, "Nothing stands between us and victory--except defeat!" Spode could hold up well in this year's Democratic TV debates. Bertie blackmails Spode on Gussie's behalf in one of the tales (Spode runs a womens' lingerie line on the side; not what you'd expect from a budding fascist dictator), with the crucial help of Jeeves, of course.
Posted at 10:10 PM
JIHAD FOOTBALL [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
No one thought laying off terror-related names might make sense?
Posted at 10:07 PM
SIR OSWALD MOSLEY [John Derbyshire]
A reader: "Isn't Mosley the one parodied by Wodehouse and decked or blackmailed or whatever by Gussie Fink-Nottle?"
I don't recall that, though I am not as well-versed in Wodehouseiana as I should like to be. I wouldn't be surprised, though. Wodehouse is widely supposed to have been a naif in matters political: yet when the topic comes up in his stories, he is usually very much to the point--subtle, funny, and true. Recall Jeeves advising Bertie Wooster that Nietzsche is "fundamentally unsound."
Some years ago I read a biography of Sir Oswald. The only thing I remember is that he was a terrific womaniser. His pickup technique at a party was to fix his stare on a woman and just keep staring until she fell into his arms--or, I suppose, told him to keep his friggin' eyes to himself. Those eyes had considerable power, though, and those long, intense, exophthalmic stares netted him many a society beauty. After reading about this, I tried it once or twice (being single at the time), with sensational lack of success.
Posted at 09:21 PM
PAGING FATHER COUGHLIN [John Derbyshire]
A hostile reader, in an e-mail, has just called me a "Moselyite" [sic]. I assume he is referring to Sir Oswald Mosley, the British fascist leader of the 1930s. (Formerly a socialist and limousine liberal. A.J.P. Taylor said of Mosley that he was equally well suited to be the party leader for either Labour or the Conservatives.)
This is a first. But how old is this reader? How many people under the age of 80, even in Britain, have even heard of Sir Oswald? Oh, well. I shall file this one in the folder where I put e-mails that accuse me of antisemitism. It is interesting, and oddly satisfying, to note that this folder contains almost precisely as many items as the one where I keep e-mails that call me a lickspittle Jew-loving lackey of the world-manipulating Zionist conspiracy.
Posted at 06:11 PM
MCCAIN FEINGOLD V. PATRIOT [Jonah Goldberg]
Another blogger joins the fray, and offers me an attaboy. BTW, my apologies to the many bloggers who've written me to take me to task for speaking too broadly about the blogosphere's relative silence on CFR. That said, I do think that if they passed, say, an anti-obscenity law on the internet the blogosphere would go far battier than it has over the trampling of civil liberties that McCain-Feingold represents.
Posted at 06:02 PM
TINFOIL HELMET CROWD [Jonah Goldberg]
I'm getting a lot of crazy email from leftist C-Span viewers. Most of it is juvenile nonsense. But here's a special one which, while typical in spirit, is exceptional in... well, I'll let you find your own adjective. I asked him for permission to run his email address and he said yes -- contingent on me mentioning he's got a "newsletter." I rarely do this but whenever I post this sort of thing, so many people ask me if I will post the address of the person who wrote it. So, here you go:
Trickle Down Stupidity!
Posted at 05:55 PM
AMERICA-HATER, EMERITUS [Jonah Goldberg ]
This screed is from the editorial page editor Emeritus of The Toronto Star. Kind of makes it impossible to take that newspaper seriously, no?
Posted at 05:38 PM
ALAN BATES, RIP [John Derbyshire]
Sir Alan Bates has died of cancer at age 67. One of my favorites. He was the gamekeeper in that wonderful atmospheric movie of L.P. Hartley's THE GO-BETWEEN, and Gabriel Oak in FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. ("He was Gabriel Oak down to his gaiters," a Hardy-phile friend of mine observed at the time.) A brilliant actor, and I think the only one so far to have portrayed Harry Flashman on screen (ROYAL FLASH, 1975).
Posted at 05:25 PM
HOW ELITES THINK [John Derbyshire]
"Legal and undocumented immigrants are also pouring into this sector."--Robert Reich, writing in the Wall Street Journal Online, 12/26/03 .
Note "legal and undocumented." Not "documented and undocumented," or "legal and illegal." Nope, it's "legal and undocumented." Everybody got that? You better remember it, unless you want people calling you "mean-spirited."
(I am obliged to Randall Parker for pointing this one out to me. Randall runs Parapundit.com, and has a good related blog here .)
Posted at 03:54 PM
DEAN BLAMES BUSH FOR MAD COWS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Dean press release
AMES, IOWA - Democratic Presidential candidate Governor Howard Dean, MD traveled to Ames and criticized the Bush administration for its approach to Mad Cow Disease and called on the USDA to immediately implement measures to restore confidence in the US beef industry. Ames, Iowa is the home of the National Veterinary Services Lab which confirmed this case of BSE or Mad Cow.
Posted at 03:24 PM
HAS THE BEAGLE LANDED? [Andrew Stuttaford]
Also in the Old Country: a mixture of amusement and consternation over the (presumed) fate of the Beagle 2 – our mission to Mars. The spacecraft was never large to begin with (about the size of a lampshade: one of my brothers described the whole project as being the equivalent of throwing a small pie in the direction of the Red Planet and hoping for the best), and now it has disappeared.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, William Langley exults as follows:
”It is possibly too early for condolences, but let me offer Prof Pillinger some consolation. Had everything gone to plan, and had the Beagle landed as sweetly as a robin on a garden spade, hardly anyone in Britain would have noticed. As it is, the professor - a West Country gas-fitter's son, reared on the adventures of Dan Dare - has become an overnight celebrity and the whole country has been stirred by the story of The Little Spacecraft That Couldn't.
”Always uncomfortable with the idea of success, the British are able to look upon the Beagle as a kind of an interplanetary version of Tim Henman, whose orbit of the tennis circuit you can usually track only through small-type sports page headlines along the lines of "Luckless Henman crashes out in Tashkent". Then, once a year, Tim manages to make his rendezvous with Wimbledon and does quite well, but not well enough to embarrass us by winning anything. Good chap…This is how it is when Britain flaunts its genius before the world. The Beagle was knocked together in a backroom for less money than a Space Shuttle pilot would pay to have his windscreen cleaned. Not since Eddie the Eagle has anything made in Britain taken to the air with slimmer chances of success…”
Posted at 03:17 PM
CHARLOTTES UNLEASHED [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Charlotte Allen and Charlotte Hays have a new sassy blog on IWF's website. See here.
Posted at 03:15 PM
DOG KILLS DOG [Andrew Stuttaford]
How do I know that I’m back in Britain? Because this is one of the lead stories in the newspapers, that’s how.
Posted at 02:49 PM
THE ZOOKEEPER [John J. Miller]
Bill Frist has an op-ed in today's Washington Post headlined "The Zoo I Know." Sounds like a provocative piece on what it's like to be Senate Majority Leader. Except that it's really about (drumroll please) the National Zoo in D.C. I suppose it's okay for political leaders to have pet causes (no pun intended), but I wish Frist would spend more time figuring out how to get Bush's judicial nominees confirmed and federal budgets trimmed.
Posted at 12:45 PM
AL FRANKEN, "WEASEL-OUT WUSS" [Tim Graham]
Al Franken's boast in his book that he challenged Rich Lowry to a fistfight gains a little bit of perspective in today's Washington Post magazine. Humor columnist Gene Weingarten wanted to parody a moment of right-left civility, but guess who was too "busy" to even get in an e-mail sandbox with one of his hate objects, the Ann Coulter doll:
"I decided to invite an arch-liberal and an arch-conservative to meet in this column and constructively discuss their differences, with me as moderator. I wanted the liberal to be Al Franken, the author of the best-selling Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, and the conservative to be Ann Coulter, author of the best-selling Traitor: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. Ann agreed right away. But Al begged off, saying he was too 'busy,' even for a worthy cause like helping combat the plague of name-calling. What a milksoppy, pantywaist, jellyfish, weasel-out wuss he turned out to be." Weingarten reports that Michael Kinsley and Molly Ivins also rejected the challenge. So Gene and Ann have a typically Weingartenesque exchange on toilet paper and the merits of dogs vs. cats.
Posted at 10:36 AM