A SHOUT-OUT FOR FRANKEN [Dave Kopel]
My new Rocky Mountain News media column looks at Air America. The verdict: "The O'Franken Factor" is a strong show, equal to many of its right-wing counterparts. Randi Rhodes, on the other hand, offers an amazing combination of stupidity, banality, and smugness.
Posted at 07:41 PM
THIS IS CNN [KJL]
I only caught the first segment of Cap Gang tonight, but it's a good thing CNN's motto isn't "fair and balanced." Kate outnumbered 4 to 1 everytime the war comes up.
Posted at 07:35 PM
ON THE BEACH [Andrew Stuttaford]
No smoking may be coming to Bondi Beach, apparently. The usual bogus reasons (and some unusual ones too: the threat to whales?) are given, including, yes…
“the dangers to children of passive smoking.”
Ah yes, ‘the children’, of course…
Posted at 01:28 PM
"THE CHILDREN" CTD. [Andrew Stuttaford]
Here’s a stupid idea slouching its ugly way towards the legislature. Big government Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter is sponsoring a bill (laughably entitled the Parent’s Empowerment Act) that would “allow the parent or guardian of a minor to sue in federal court anyone who knowingly disseminates any media containing “material that is harmful to minors” if the material is distributed in a way that “a reasonable person can expect a substantial number of minors to be exposed to the material and the minor, as a result to exposure to the material, is likely to suffer personal or emotional injury or injury to mental or moral welfare.”
That’s so widely drawn as to ensure that almost any media could be drawn within its net, or at least tied up in nuisance litigation that would, inevitably, have a chilling effect on what is produced. That’s probably the idea, but if Rep. Hunter wants tighter censorship, he should just say so. This bill is as dishonest as it is bone-headed.
Posted at 01:23 PM
RE: ROCK FOR LIFE [Tim Graham]
Rod, I read Hornby, and he's right: he's a geezer. At least he acknowledges Outkast's "Hey Ya," which was a remarkable slice of joy. I wonder if he's heard the new record from Jet, which one critic said is "Perhaps the first band of the genre to completely absorb and effectively reconfigure classic rock & roll influences without a trace of winking irony." For a nice crunchy radio song, I'd nominate "No One Knows" by Queens of the Stone Age. (I dig Virginia's own Dave Grohl, who drums for this CD, and his Foo Fighters.)
But think about it: with rock music about as old as Hornby, how hard it has to be to sound both classic and original. How hard to write a bouncing classic-sounding rock song and not have someone say "oh, that sounds just like so and so." Rock radio certainly isn't the same, either. It doesn't seem to be manufacturing "classic rock" or rock supergroups like in the "old days." The old supergroups are definitely geezers. Who under 30 really wants to watch Kiss or the Rolling Stones do Youth Rebellion by AARP Members? Hornby ought to acknowledge it's okay to get old and broaden your horizons to a wider menu of music.
But then, don't take me as your reliable rock critic. I am the guy who went from cow town to college with my classic Toto albums. (Can you say "hazing target"?) My current addiction is the genre-busting jazz of The Bad Plus.
Posted at 12:11 PM
PUNKS [Andrew Stuttaford]
Whether it’s Eliot Spitzer smugly commenting that New York’s state prisons have a ‘certain edge,’ or whether it’s comedians joking about the perils of penitentiary showers, one of the most striking aspects of the cruelty and degradation of the American prison system is the way that such abuse is, apparently, tolerated. Now we have yet another example of how this brutalization has been internalized by those charged with managing the system, this time from the California prison guards’ union. What triggered it? Well, to his credit, Governor Schwarzenegger is trying to restrain some of his state’s prison spending. The response from a union official?
"In the prison system, if you give in to a bully, you're a punk. [The guards union] has never been a punk. I can't say it any more clearly than that."
What the official is also implicitly saying, in fact (as Matt Welch rightly points out over at Reason), is that the ‘punk’ (or, to use another word, rape victim), someone, incidentally, who his union members are meant to protect, is a creature beneath contempt.
Prisoners, understandably, are often not individuals for whom the rest of America feels much sympathy, but, in a civilized society, humanity must not stop at the prison gate. And if a simple sense of decency is not enough to convince people of this, self-interest ought to do the trick. Brutalizing those who will one day be released back to live among the rest of us makes absolutely no sense at all.
Posted at 12:05 PM
RE: MCCAIN-HASTERT [Rod Dreher]
Ramesh, your point that Hastert's comment could have come as the answer to a reporter twisting the question is a fair one. I'll concede that. I don't think it's out of bounds either for Republicans to point out that McCain is voting with the Dems on this one (or any one), but you know as well as I do that RINO-ing McCain is common in GOP circles. I don't think it's right (and let me say I think McCain was wrong on campaign finance, so nobody come back on me about that). It's not enough to say that McCain is wrong on this or that; some Republicans have to call him a Democrat, which he certainly isn't. Reminds me of a very conservative friend of mine who sat on a planning board in his town, and came out against something developers wanted because he thought it was bad for the community. He was publicly denounced by the head of the planning board as a RINO. That tactic bothers me.
I don't think pointing out that Hastert escaped Vietnam service with a medical deferment is a "cheap shot" in context of an editorial criticizing him for saying that John McCain needed to learn the meaning of sacrifice by visiting wounded soldiers. I don't think it's right to hold a medical deferment against anybody. But why is it wrong to point out that Hastert didn't serve in Vietnam, but was criticizing in a way we found disreputable someone who did serve, and with distinction?
Finally, you write, "And by the way, the editorial comment was that McCain's argument was 'entirely legitimate.' In now saying that maybe McCain is a bit of a hypocrite, you're shifting ground." Wait a minute. The editorial is clear that by "McCain's critique," we meant his pointing out that neither party -- but particularly his own, which is supposed to be the party of fiscal responsibility -- is doing anything serious to reign in spending. How can that be disputed? Besides, how does my conceding (for the sake of argument) that McCain may be a a bit of a hypocrite on this score make me shift ground on the legitimacy of his argument (such as it is)?
I regret that I will be computer-free the rest of the weekend, and won't be able to answer if there's anything else on this debate. When SBC tells you they'll get your DSL hooked up in a jif, run screaming for the door. We're at almost three weeks and counting on our order, which they've screwed up twice. It's probably John McCain's fault.
Posted at 12:02 PM
DON'T MESS WITH THE U.S. MARINES [John Derbyshire]
Especially this guy
Posted at 11:57 AM
THE LOYA JIRGA OPTION [Rich Lowry]
This seems to me to be a very sensible proposal by Marina Ottaway on the Washington Post op-ed page today. One of the strengths of the Brahimi plan is that it has a version of the caucus system originally proposed by Bremer--this is a rough-and-ready way to get to some form of representation without the logistical difficulties of a full-blown election. The weakness of the Brahimi plan is that this process selecting a national conference comes AFTER the post-June 3O government is chosen by Brahimi and us. This means that the government will be chosen by fiat and the representative conference will have no input into it--so the post-June 3O government is likely to have the same legitimacy problems that have appeared to beset the Governing Council. So Ottoway suggests, Why not flip the process? Create the broadly representative conference, then have it select the government. This will give the Iraqi public a voice in the selection of the new government, while sticking to the June 3O deadline. Mickey Kaus has been agitating for quicker elections, perhaps by September. That just may not be possible, as a matter of logistics and security. This idea seems better in two ways: 1) It is unquestionably possible to carry out. 2) It brings some representation into the system even faster than the “faster” option Mickey has been touting. Under this proposal June 3O might actually MEAN something.
Posted at 11:56 AM
IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT NRO [Mackubin Thomas Owens]
Long before “K-Lo” invited me to write a piece for NRO in the wake 9/11, I was already addicted to the site. I had long subscribed to the print version of National Review and I had always believed that the publication set the standard for opinion journals. But NRO provides nearly “real-time” commentaries on breaking events. This is something that a weekly or bi-weekly publication, no matter how outstanding, simply cannot match.
It is, of course, a great honor to have been asked to join the many luminaries who frequently write for NRO. But while I can imagine not writing for NRO, I cannot imagine not reading it.
I’m sure this is how it is with many other readers. But what we have here is a classic “free rider” problem. Just because a good is distributed for free doesn’t mean the cost of production is zero. Clearly, the money to run such an important operation has to come from somewhere. Since NRO doesn’t charge a subscription, it must be subsidized by the print version of National Review or be funded by donations.
So try to imagine where you would be if NRO didn’t exist. Where would you get the timely commentaries NRO provides? Where else would you be able to read regular contributions by Victor Davis Hanson or Jed Babbin or Kate O’Beirne or the multitude of other writers that you find on NRO? And what would you do without The Corner?
NRO has probably done more than any other publication, cyber or print, to publicize topics of interest to serious conservatives. I admit to being a free rider when it comes to the Public Broadcast System because I don’t give a fig about it. I’m not sure we’d be that much worse off without PBS. But I know we would be worse off without NRO. I urge you to donate to NRO today.
Posted at 11:50 AM
Friday, May 21, 2004
COSMO GEAR [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Jonah : My Cosmo sweatshirt has finally arrived (The "IT" Dog of the Americam Right). I love it. I promptly put it on and stepped outside. Immediately squirrels and chipmunks started chattering and scurried up trees; little bunnies ran and hid in the bushes. Even the deer started snorting and pawing at the ground. The only problem is that my two goldens are ignoring me now; I think that they are jealous.
Posted at 10:15 PM
CHALABI [Jonah Goldberg ]
As I said, I don't know what's going on with the guy. But I keep getting these emails suggesting that the raid was staged. I think this is nonsense, not least because it's appeared at Thomaspaine.com. I certainly don't put it past the CIA to prop up someone if need be and I'm not even sure it would be a bad idea if it would work. But the story being spread everywhere is that Chalabi gave intelligence to the Iranians. If this was staged, why create that cover story? That doesn't paint Chalabi as a great Iraqi patriot. It paints him as a traitor of a differnt color. We know that even the majority of Iraqi Shiites don't trust the Iranians.
Posted at 09:54 PM
RE: RE: MCCAIN-HASTERT [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Rod: You're missing the point and changing the subject. 1) Regarding the meaning of Hastert's words, the first thing to note is that we cannot assume from the exchange that Hastert knew anything more about McCain's speech than was contained in the reporter's question. Hastert's words are certainly compatible with the uncharitable interpretation: that he was taking a stupid cheap shot at McCain for not knowing the meaning of sacrifice. But it is also compatible with his saying that the answer to the question, where is the sacrifice in this war, is found in military hospital beds. The Dallas Morning News could have provided the actual words from the exchange, instead of the totally misleading context it did provide. (You'd think from the editorial that Hastert had attended, watched, or read McCain's speech and made a response to it, rather than answering a reporter's question off-the-cuff.)
2) Has the DMN even been following the fiscal debate it's editorializing about? Hastert never claimed that McCain was at fault for not supporting higher spending. The fiscal issue on which McCain and the House Republicans have split in recent weeks is the question of budget rules. The House Republicans, like the White House, want a rule that constrains spending. McCain and the Democrats want a rule that constrains spending and tax cuts. That's not a ridiculous position, and you have every right to adopt it as your own (your own argument tends in that direction). But it can hardly be out of bounds for Hastert to say that McCain is voting with the Democrats when, in fact, he is. Nor is it out of bounds for him to point out that McCain does a fair amount of that. And if you do want to "object" to it, you don't have to call Hastert's comment "idiotic" and "offensive," tell him to "stifle it," and make a cheap shot of your own at his lack of Vietnam service. And by the way, the editorial comment was that McCain's argument was "entirely legitimate." In now saying that maybe McCain is a bit of a hypocrite, you're shifting ground.
Posted at 07:47 PM
MEYERS DEFENDS THE INC [KJL]
Posted at 06:42 PM
DENNY'S PRESS [Tim Graham]
Okay, the Speaker misspoke on the go-see-the-soldiers business. But can't we all acknowledge that it has to be annoying to have the usual liberal throng of reporters breathlessly asking you to respond to every glorious morsel that drips from the lips of Johnny Mac?
Worst of all was on "Today," which excused its latest McCain interview by hammering Hastert as the one who breaks Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment about not speaking ill of another Republican? That is McCain's daily M.O., and he's playing the victim, the loyal party man? Eek.
Posted at 05:48 PM
RE: HOMOGAMY IN MASSACUSETTS [John Derbyshire]
A reader tells me:
"The following appeared on Boston.com:
"Headline: Survey finds women in majority
"Date: May 18, 2004
"Two-thirds of the gays who applied for marriage licenses yesterday were women, half of the couples had been together for at least a decade, and an enormous majority were Massachusetts residents, a Globe survey of 752 couples in 11 cities and towns found."
Posted at 05:37 PM
MANY IRAQ PRISON ABUSES OCCURRED IN NOV. [Rich Lowry]
Drudge is linking to this story about most of the abuses happening on one day--would seem to indicate that they weren't widespread. One thing I noticed in the Washington Post coverage today is that specialist Graner seems to be in at least four of the pictures. And the Post reports this in its account of the statements by Iraqi prisoners: "Eight of the detainees identified by name one particular soldier at the center of the abuse investigation, Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr., a member of the 372nd Military Police Company from Cresaptown, Md. Five others described abuse at the hands of a solider who matches Graner's description."
Posted at 05:36 PM
LIBERAL ROOTS CONT'D [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Me This is the point I've been meaning all day to clarify. Of course there are many liberals well versed in a coherent "liberal" (Trans: progressive) philosophy. I'm sure that Josh Marshall knows a lot of history and philosophy (he's a PhD, right?) and I know that a few guys at the New Republic do. At the same time, I'd offer a few points:
A) I've said that I was speaking in generalizations more than once.
Posted at 05:16 PM
MCCAIN, CFR GURU [Tim Graham]
You will not soon know. Who's going to be asking McCain to critique Kerry while they're touting him as The Running Mate? Has anyone seen Fred Wertheimer on TV this year? Where did the CFR lobby go?
Posted at 05:07 PM
CIVILIZATION AND BARBARISM [John Derbyshire]
A reader, a fellow Johnsonian, reminds me of the following:
"John---Having read your fine ... article on what constitutes civilization versus the barbarians, I read this remark in Boswell's 'Life of Johnson', which I thought was rather apposite (page 1218):
"BOSWELL: 'I should wish to go and see some country totally different from what I have been used to; such as Turkey, where religion and every thing else are different.'
"JOHNSON: 'Yes, Sir; there are two objects of curiosity, - the Christian world, and the Mahometan world. All the rest may be considered as barbarous.'
"Of course, in their day, the 'Mahomatans' were sufficiently docile as to be considered an object of curiosity and tourism! They didn't have to put up with what we now have to put up with."
One of the never-ending arguments I have with readers is over the place of Islam in our present troubles. I said pretty much what I have to say about this issue two years ago, and glancing at that piece again, don't see anything I would change.
Posted at 05:06 PM
HOMOGAMY IN MASSACHUSETTS [John Derbyshire]
It is my impression from the TV coverage that a majority of the "gay weddings" authorized in Massachusetts these last few days have been lesbian pairings. I'd like to see some actual numbers on this, but couldn't find any in the news sources. Does anybody know the numbers, even approximately?
Posted at 05:03 PM
RE: MCCAIN-HASTERT [Rod Dreher]
Not so fast, Ramesh. What could Hastert have been implying about McCain other than that he (McCain) doesn't know the meaning of sacrifice? (Anyway, it was a bizarre statement for Hastert to have made, given that the McCain speech he was reacting to praised the soldiers' sacrifice in the same sentence in which he dinged everybody else). And why is it wrong for the DMN editorial -- which, I should point out, represents the view of the editorial board, though I agree with what it says and had a lot of input into shaping it -- to find it objectionable that Hastert hauled out the same old tired GOP trick of calling McCain a RINO when he bucks what the leadership wants? Where is it written that to be counted as a Republican in good standing, you have to agree to whatever foolish spending the president and the party leaders desire? I was, of course, a McCain supporter in the 2000 primaries, but ended up glad that he didn't win. I've been an enthusiastic Bush backer all along. McCain is certainly not flawless, no question. What sticks in my craw about this Hastert incident are a couple of things: 1) the way the GOP establishment treats the guy for not playing along (for me, this goes back to being down in South Carolina covering the primary and seeing the dirty pool that Pat Robertson & Co. pulled on Bush's behalf), and 2) the way the Republicans under Bush and the Congressional leadership spend, spend, spend. McCain may be, as you imply, some sort of hypocrite on spending. But when are we going to see Congressional Republicans tell the White House, "Forget it, we're not going to sign off on these profligate budgets anymore"?
Posted at 05:01 PM
It's Friday. You're tired. But then you get this. And many like them. Makes it worthwhile:
I've been reading NR since the 1960's and have been a faithful reader of NRO since its inception. You and your colleagues have helped me immeasurably through the trials of recent years. I work just a few blocks from the World Trade Center site, and saw unbelievable carnage that day. Both before and since, I've started most days and ended most evenings reading the contributions on the website as I try to sort out where we are and what we should do.
Posted at 04:54 PM
FOX [Rich Lowry]
I'll be on Greta tonight at around 10:30.
Posted at 04:52 PM
FLYING MONKEYS IN D.C. [KJL]
There's a mural dedicated to NRO! Well, sorta.
Posted at 04:47 PM
JUNE 30 [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Rich has been telling me for months that nothing is going to change on that date, although I haven't had a chance to ask him to expand on that. Mickey Kaus makes an additional point I hadn't thought of: "This has all the makings of 'Mission Accomplished II.' The June 30 transfer will be 'accomplished,' but none of the essentials will change. Indeed, we're told by our commanding generals, the violence will probably get worse" (bolding his).
Posted at 04:46 PM
KERRY CONSIDERS DELAYING NOMINATION [KJL]
so he can spend his primary money longer. What will John McCain, all-powerful CFR guru, think? I'm sure we'll soon know.
Posted at 04:19 PM
STEWART CASE DEVELOPMENT [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Posted at 03:53 PM
HILL REPUBLICANS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
are also talking today about this story on Republican lobbyists' campaign contributions to Tom Daschle. Republican politicians certainly know how the game is played, so nobody seems to be too mad at David Rehr of the Beer Wholesalers Association. But Steve Largent, formerly one of the most loudly conservative members of the House and now the president of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, is another story.
Posted at 03:49 PM
THE WAY TO A READER'S HEART [John Derbyshire]
"Dear Mr. Derbyshire---If you hadn't used 'abecedarian' in NRO, I would not have contributed in the current round of NRO Drive Days. That said, I wonder why everyone else hasn't contributed, and what, exactly, are they waiting for?"
Posted at 03:16 PM
MCCAIN AND HASTERT [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Rod, Kathryn: I cannot agree with that Dallas Morning News editorial, which I found rather more disgraceful than Hastert's comments. First let's recap. Reporter to Hastert: "[McCain's] observation was never before when we've been at war have we been worrying about cutting taxes and his question was, 'Where's the sacrifice?'" Hastert responds: ""If you want to see the sacrifice, John McCain ought to visit our young men and women at Walter Reed and Bethesda. There's the sacrifice in this country. We're trying to make sure they have the ability to fight this war, that they have the wherewithal to be able to do it. And, at the same time, we have to react to keep this country strong."
Okay, it was a dumb statement--it opened up Hastert to the kind of criticism he's been getting. But I'm sorry, Hastert just didn't belittle McCain's own sacrifice in his statement.
As for McCain's being right on the underlying budget issues: There is room for doubt. McCain wants a budget rule that makes it harder to cut taxes or increase spending. But he has voted to waive the rules to allow more spending. House Republicans have noticed that, and they don't like it. Whoever's right, it certainly complicates the picture of McCain as apostle of fiscal rectitude.
Finally, the Dallas Morning News is either badly informed or disingenuous when it suggests that there is no reason at all to question McCain's Republican credentials. Everybody knows that there are plenty of issues on which McCain has moved left over the last five years.
To compare Hastert's remark to Kennedy's "under new management" line about Abu Ghraib is, to say the least, overheated. Whoever wrote the editorial needs to calm down.
Posted at 02:41 PM
VARIETY & RELEVANCE [Janice Crouse, Concerned Women for America]
An ideal day is get to work early, get everything under control and then enjoy reading NRO. The articles are serious, funny, national, intellectual, international, probing, fascinating, satirical, and/or sentimental. The variety and relevance keeps me tuned in and coming back for the late entries. Now, if they'll just start more adding articles for the 2 p.m. slump -- that would be great!
Posted at 02:15 PM
PLEASE, TELL ME MORE [Jonah Goldberg ]
The New York Times seems to be saying US troops are deliberately targeting the media, or at least have tried, or want to, or something. I'd love to know what Mr. Wong is talking about:
Iraq has become one of the most dangerous places in the world from which to report, with enormous potential for journalists to be deliberately targeted by either side or caught in the crossfire.
Posted at 02:11 PM
LIBERAL ROOTS CONT [Jonah Goldberg]
From a policy gnome at Cato:
"but I would stack any random intern from Reason or the Cato Institute against almost anyone at the Center for American Progress when it comes to arguing philosophy."
Posted at 01:39 PM
LEAVE NO WORD BEHIIND [John Derbyshire]
Dictionary.com's word for the day is "abecedarian." A disgruntled dictionary.com subscriber e-mailed me to ask: "Does anyone, anywhere, use this word?" Sure: I have used it on NRO.
Posted at 01:35 PM
HEALTHY REMINDER [Jonah Goldberg ]
Of how bad the Hussein regime was. These tapes will probably vanish without much of a ripple, of course.
Posted at 01:22 PM
THE RANGE OF THE HOMEPAGE [KJL]
If you haven't acted yet this week, would you please consider taking a look at www.nationalreview.com's homepage before the day, or this weekend, and considering supporting this webzine's future? Listen to Rush, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Michelle Malkin, your man Derb, and Michael Graham. Read Cliff May, Peter Robinson, Steve Hayward, Bill Owens, Bill Simon and more. They all believe in the importance of the existence and growth of NRO. I hope you agree.
Posted at 12:42 PM
RE: CHALABI [Jonah Goldberg ]
Matt Yglesias' increasingly knee-jerk dyspepsia toward conservatives continues. He writes of my position of Chalabi: "Jonah Goldberg, wisely, pronounces the whole issue too hard to understand, thus ensuring that whichever faction comes out on top in the end, he'll be okay."
Um, isn't it possible I'm not biding my time in some Machiavellian scheme to "come out on top" (Oh, the glory that will rain upon the conservative who is on the winning side of the Great Chalabi Debate!), but I'm actually being intellectually honest? For the record, I don't think I've ever written a whole paragraph about Achmed Chalabi, though I did interview him by satellite once for a BBC show I was on. I've never been able to figure out what the story is on him. My guess is that this is one of those times when both sides are more right than wrong. He is a con man and a political hustler. But lots of good history has been made by people who fit that description (if liberals want nothing to do with such people, I await the purge of Jesse Jackson from liberal ranks, by the way). I guess my problem has always been that I couldn't ever figure out whether he was the right hustler for the job. I'd share more, but my snitches tell me the pro-Chalabi faction is ascendent and I don't want to blow my chances at a coupon for a free stuffed-crust pizza at the Baghdad Pizza Hut.
Posted at 12:38 PM
CHALABI HYPOCRISY [Rich Lowry]
Whatever the merits of that raid yesterday, it seems to me some conservatives take their loyalty to Chalabi too far. Here is the beginning of the Wall Street Journal editorial on the matter: “Someday we hope U.S. officials will explain to us how in scarcely a year they managed to turn one of our closest allies in ousting Saddam Hussein into an opponent of American purposes.” Uh, isn’t it at least possible that Chalabi has been in the wrong? Also, people who are usually hawks on Iran and oppose all Iranian influence in Iraq sing a different tune when it comes to Chalabi. The New York Sun in its editorial today says of the Bush administration’s case against Chalabi: “If it involves Iran, the administration will have to explain why Mr. Chalabi’s dealings with Iran are worse than their own negotiations in Geneva or worse than those of other Iraqi faction with which America regularly does business.” But wait a minute. If Chalabi’s really our guy, shouldn’t he be purer on Iran than other players in Iraq? And if the New York Sun criticizes others for being entangled with Iran, why doesn’t Chalabi come in for that criticism too?
Posted at 12:21 PM
CHALABI [Rich Lowry]
I’m with Jonah in not really knowing what to make of all the Chalabi business, but I’ve always been a mild Chalabi skeptic. I take Michael Rubin’s points today in his fantastically well-informed piece that the raid on Chalabi’s compound was a mistake because: 1) it shows contempt for the Iraqi Governing Council, of which Chalabi is a member; 2) it shows that there is no benefit in being an ally (or at least a perceived ally) of the United States. But what I had always heard from a source I trust in Iraq is that no one trusted Chalabi and he was an incompetent politician who had developed no popular following. Here is how the Washington Post today describes what was supposed to be his grand march on Baghdad last year:
“‘It was the moment of truth for Chalabi, and it was literally a moment. It was over almost the minute it happened,’ said a senior U.S. official who worked with Chalabi and served in the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad. ‘Compared to [Charles] de Gaulle's march to Paris [to liberate France], Chalabi's march to Baghdad was a stone that went into the water without a splash.’
U.S. officials point to that early April 2003 covert operation as the turning point in their dealings with the charismatic U.S.-educated banker and convicted felon -- a relationship that was always controversial but, nonetheless, has dramatically changed both Iraq and the Middle East over the past year.
Instead of being the warrior-king who liberated town after town, ‘he was jeered more than cheered. Iraqis were shouting him down. It was embarrassing,’ said another U.S. official familiar with Chalabi's first public appearance in the Iraqi heartland after 45 years in exile. ‘We had to help bail him out.’”
It has been a little hard to figure out what exactly is the alleged offense that justified yesterday’s raid. Here are the best brief descriptions I can find today. The Washington Post reports:
“At the center of the inquiry is [Sabah] Nouri, whom Chalabi picked as the top anti-corruption official in the new Iraqi Finance Ministry. Chalabi heads the Governing Council's finance committee and has major influence in its staffing and operation.
When auditors early this year began counting the old Iraqi dinars brought in and the new Iraqi dinars given out in return, they discovered a shortfall of more than $22 million. Nouri, a German national, was arrested in April and faces 17 charges including extortion, fraud, embezzlement, theft of government property and abuse of authority. He is being held in a maximum security facility, according to three sources close to the investigation.
In recent weeks, several other Finance Ministry officials have been arrested as part of the investigation. A U.S. official familiar with the case said, ‘We are cracking down on corruption regardless of names involved.’” And here is how that pro-Chalabi Eli Lake piece in the New York Sun reports it:
“That legal matter stems from the testimony of Sabbah Nouri Ibrahim al-Salem. He told Iraqi investigators that Mr. Chalabi’s organization instructed him to strong-arm bureaucrats and steal government property.
On March 24, Iraqi police arrested Mr. al-Salem, the office manager for the Iraqi finance minister,Kamil al-Gailani, on 17 charges including claims that he kidnapped and coerced confessions from bank tellers charged with stealing newly printed Iraqi dinars in January.
When he was arrested, according to two sources familiar with the investigation, he told Iraqi police that he was a friend of Aras Habib Karem, Mr. Chalabi’s intelligence chief,prompting Iraqi authorities to issue a warrant for Mr. Karem’s arrest.
Shortly after his detention in a minimum security prison in Baghdad, Mr. al-Salem got hold of a cell phone and called the judge from the Iraqi central criminal court investigating his case, Zuhair al-Maliky, threatening his life if he proceeded, according to these sources. He was then transferred to a maximum security prison, where he remains.
In interviews last month, INC officials said Mr. al-Salem was a low-ranking member of their organization and that he joined the INC shortly after the liberation of Nassiriyah.
‘He was assigned to be a guard to the Ministry of Finance, he had a quarrel with a CPA Finance Ministry contractor. He was arrested and we don’t want to prejudice the investigation,’ Mr. Chalabi said in an interview last month with the Sun.
In another interview, a spokesman for Mr. Chalabi, Zaab Sethna, told the Sun Mr. al-Salem was a guard who was not a significant member of the INC."
Posted at 12:19 PM
ROCK FOR LIFE [Rod Dreher]
The English novelist Nick Hornby has a long-winded but enjoyable op-ed in today's Times, complaining that too little of today's pop music conveys the ragged joy of being alive. I think he's right about that, which is why I gave up on rock music years ago, for the most part. It just didn't feed my soul anymore, not like pre-1960s jazz and sundry folk music does (I'm thinking of Cuban music, which I discovered while living in south Florida, and which to me is just about the most joyful and life-giving sound on the planet). However, I still play some of my old rock albums, because they convey to me the giddy, propulsive pleasures of being young and alive. I'm dating myself, of course, but I think of the first four or five REM albums as the soundtrack to my youth, and I could listen to "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight" from the "Automatic for the People" album over and over and over. More recently, I've found driving alone on the freeway, as fast as I think I can get away with, and listening to Fountains of Wayne's power-pop masterpiece "Welcome Interstate Managers" -- especially the cut "Little Red Light" -- provides for pure transcendence.
Any fellow codgers here find anything joyful or life-giving about contemporary music? Who do you listen to to find it?
Posted at 12:13 PM
CONSPIRACY THEORY [KJL]
Jim Geraghty relays that Kerry's not so hot in Arkansas, and wonders how that can be if Clinton is regularly advising him. Well...maybe it's because Clinton is advising him. Stranger things have happened (think Wesley Clark). But I won't bore you with my "Enter Hillary" nightmare again.
Posted at 12:10 PM
RE: DENNY [KJL]
Rod, I hasn't realized he said that. Good you guys called him on it.
Posted at 11:56 AM
"STIFLE IT, DENNY" [Rod Dreher]
That's the headline on the lead editorial in today's Dallas Morning News, which whacks House Speaker Denny Hastert for his disgraceful suggestion that John McCain needs to go visit wounded soldiers to learn something about sacrifice. I know McCain is not the GOP leadership's favorite, but how dare Speaker Hastert, who escaped Vietnam service on a medical deferment, say such a thing about a senator who was beaten so badly by the communists that he can't raise his hands above his head, and who refused to end his torment by leaving prison early, ahead of his comrades, when the North Vietnamese offered to let him go? It boggles the mind that Hastert would stoop so low -- and over a budget issue, on which McCain happens to be right. It makes me ill that the GOP runs the executive and the legislative branches, and this conservative government is spending worse than Democrats.
McCain is right to say that's wrong. I wish more Republicans would. I'm sick of being told we can have tax cuts without cuts in nonmilitary spending, which as we know has skyrocketed under this administration. I don't believe we can, and I believe President Bush and the Congress are saddling my generation with an incredible burden. I used to trust the Republicans to be the party of fiscal responsibility. Now I don't think any such thing exists.
Posted at 11:44 AM
CONCORDIA MEA CULPA [KJL]
Last night I referred to the commencement address POTUS delivered at Concordia University in Wisconsin, but I called the school Concordia College. My apologies. Contrary to some readers' friendly jibes, though, there was no latent Catholic-Lutheran rivalry there.
Posted at 11:38 AM
BUSH AS AN EVIL CYBORG [KJL]
You might have missed that winning item in the Washington Post if your not checking in the Kerry Spot blog here.
Posted at 11:33 AM
LIBERAL ROOTS CONT'D [Jonah Goldberg]
Steve - Very interesting points. I'll stop saying how I'm trying to keep my powder dry on the book, but I entirely agree that American conservatives, by and large, are inspired by the classical Liberals of the 19th century and in that sense this is all an argument within liberalism. Sam Huntington wrote an amazing essay in 1957, I think, on Conservatism as an Ideology which pointed out in detail that American conservatives were trying to conserve liberal institutions. This is why Hayek excludes American conservatives in his essay "Why I Am Not a Conservative." He was complaining about the European conservatives, De Maistre et al, who wanted to remain frozen in time until they get go backwards in time. But don't get me started on that.
Instead, let me offer a few nice words for the Libertarians by way of responding to liberals who claim they don't need to understand intellectual history because they're so gloriously dynamic and change-loving -- which is so much self-serving propaganda for a movement dedicated to preserving the clunky apparatus of the New Deal and Great Society.
Libertarians of almost all flavors, including the folks I have the biggest disagreements with, are much more dynamic and change oriented than any other political group except, perhaps, for anarchists and the mentally deranged. I mean Virginia Postrel wrote a wonderful book called The Future and Its Enemies for pete's sake, but I would be terrified to debate her on intellectual history (okay not terrified, but scared enough to do a lot of homework). Indeed, all the professional libertarians and most of the amateur ones I've ever met know their philosophy and history very, very well -- quite often better than their conservative peers. As conservatives we may not always agree with them, but I would stack any random intern from Reason or the Cato Institute against almost anyone at the Center for American Progress when it comes to arguing philosophy. Yeah, I'm overstating things, but not by that much.
In other words, claiming you love change and therefore don't need to know your intellectual roots isn't an argument, it's a cop-out. This was a point, I read somewhere, Herbert Marcuse tried to hammer into 1960s radicals who thought they could put a torch to the past without caring about what got burnt.
Now I think there are reasons for all of this and I don't think they all reflect poorly on liberals. American Liberalism -- "progressivism" really is the better word -- has always been more devoted to action than ideas. Action may leave more buildings and bodies in its wake, but it doesn't leave that many books. Conservatives and libertarians -- sibling movements at first and now certainly no more distant than cousins -- have always felt like they were on the outside looking in. Minority cultures always feel the need to work harder at justifying and analyzing their minority status and understanding the majority's arguments. That's true on college campuses where conservatives share much in common with black activists and feminists in their enthusiasm for celebrating/wallowing in their outsider status and its true at the national level. Meanwhile progressives constructed the welfare state and defended it against attackers -- often by viciously demonizing them -- for so long and so successfully, they've forgotten why they're inside the castle walls in the first place and they are now instinctually and culturally hostile to ideas which question the philosophical status quo, even though many of them can't explain or adequately defend the ideas which support the status quo.
And yeah, there are other reasons for all of this too, I think. But I'll stop there for now.
Posted at 11:30 AM
RE: FOXIAN FUSS [Tim Graham]
Jonah, you write "please God, stop their whining about Fox News and the American Enterprise Institute for pete's sake, they look ridiculous." I get your meaning, but isn't that what we should be praying to God for, that liberals look ridiculous?
Not only do liberals feel the need to cite any intellectual roots. They don't feel the need to cite any examples when they charge Fox is hopelessly right-wing, either.
Posted at 10:48 AM
RE: RE: LIBERAL ROOTS [Steve Hayward]
Jonah: You should keep after this theme, as it is absolutely correct. Some time ago I got a call from an editor asking for a book title that explained liberal political philosophy, and I was stumped. Best I could do was the conservative critiques that describe liberalism's attributes better than liberalism does itself, such as James Burnham's Suicide of the West, or Kenneth Minogue's The Liberal Mind (back in print from Liberty Fund; it holds up very well after 40 years). The point is, it is impossible to find the liberal analogue to Kirk's The Conservative Mind.
Recall, too, Lionel Trilling's book, The Liberal Imagination (which set Kirk off to write The Conservative Mind, as Trilling dismissed conservatism as no more than "irritiable mental gestures"), in which Trilling took after liberals for abandoning exactly the kind of outlook your last correspondent laid out, namely, the complexity and variability of social life. Trilling detected early exactly what contemporary liberalism has become: dogmatic, closed-minded, and reactionary. Anyone who understood what Trilling meant (and his book can be considered a conservative book today) would be incapable of nonsense about a "war on poverty," "root causes," or a "Great Society." He thought the sources of liberal thought were to be found in literature, which is fine as far as it goes. (Also as a lit. crit., he suffered from the "When all you have is a hammer. . ." limitation.)
But the sources of liberal thought are in many cases the same sources of modern conservative thought, especially John Locke. Conservatism might well be said to have appropriated and become the champion of the best elements of the Lockean liberal tradition. (Norman Podhoretz argued several years ago that had Trilling lived into the 1980s, he would have become a neocon.) Liberalism abandoned Locke in favor of Rousseau and Kant (you rightly mentioned thinkers like Croly for this transition) and Rousseau and his successors, especially Marx, have come to a dead end. This is where liberals avert their theoretical gaze. To confront the failure of the dead-end tangent of liberal philosophy they have followed in the 20th century and today is to look into the abyss. Hence you have either liberal/postmodern theoreticians who are obscure, unreadable and therefore irrelevant, or you have simplistic rants.
Posted at 10:46 AM
STATE EMPLOYMENT STATS [Jonah Goldberg]
From the Joint Economic Committee:
From the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), Chairman Robert F. Bennett…
Posted at 10:32 AM
CHALABI [Jonah Goldberg]
I was talking with an expert on the Middle East this morning and he said that he'd heard from a bunch of Pentagon and State types that the allegation Chalabi forwarded info to the Iranians is real and really serious.
Personally, I find this to be one of those issues -- like the Balkans -- that the more you study it, the less you understand it.
Posted at 10:22 AM
THE WHITE HOUSE & CHALABI [KJL]
From Eli Lake in the NYSun: “One Bush administration official who is supportive of Mr. Chalabi told the Sun: ‘I don’t know what this is about, but we’ve just shot ourselves in the head.’” Lake reports that White House officials knew the raid was happening, but Bremer made the call.
Also of note: “On the same day, two American intelligence officers visited the home of author and Iraqi human rights leader Kanan Makiya asking about documents from the Baathist archives associated with his Iraq Memory Foundation.” KJL
Posted at 10:20 AM
CHALABI [KJL ]
Read Michael Rubin’s really distressing piece today. He writes:
The raid on Chalabi's house, personally approved by CPA administrator L. Paul Bremer, encapsulates what has gone wrong with the American administration in Iraq. Bremer came to Baghdad and planned to rule by dictate. He scuttled Jay Garner's desire for early sovereignty. In late July, Bremer vetoed a Governing Council proposal to create a prime minister, saying that this might undercut his power. Fearing any challenge to his authority, Bremer gave a series of condescending radio addresses mocked by Iraqis. Rather than promote the new generation of Iraqi politicians, Bremer put himself at the center of press attention. For example, Bremer decided that he, rather than an Iraqi official, would announce the new Iraqi currency. Iraqification became second stage to Bremer's desire to replace Secretary of State Colin Powell should Bush win reelection. There was no room for assertive Iraqis who refused to grovel.Read the whole piece.
Posted at 10:06 AM
RE: LIBERAL ROOTS [Jonah Goldberg]
I'm leaving for London tomorrow and I have a bunch of stuff to do this morning, first and foremost take Coz on an outrageously delayed walk. But I will try to answer some of the numerous emails on this liberal roots stuff later this morning and clarify a few of my own points, which some people may have either misunderstood or which I may have miscommunicated. But, I'm sorry, Cosmo comes first (which is in fact Cosmo's version of "America First.")
Posted at 09:21 AM
SLATE VS. STANLEY [Stanley Kurtz]
Slate has just come out with two extended attacks on my arguments against gay marriage. One piece, by Slate’s legal correspondent, Dahlia Lithwick, is a general swipe at proponents of the “slippery slope” argument, including me. The other piece, is by M. V. Lee Badgett, a professor of economics and gay and lesbian studies at U. Mass Amherst, is a lengthy attempt to rebut my Scandinavia work. I’ll have a reply to both pieces next week, but here’s a quick response to Badgett. Badgett’s claim that marriage in Scandinavia is pretty healthy right now is not credible. Whether on the left or right, demographers acknowledge that marriage in Scandinavia is on the way out. Badgett gives the same tired statistics that supposedly prove that Scandinavian marriage is going through a renaissance, completely ignoring my detailed critique of those figures. Badgett also overlooks a key element of my argument--that the practice of marrying after the first child is falling by the wayside and couples are increasingly not marrying after even second and third children. This is the core change that has taken place since gay marriage. The rate of out-of-wedlock births may have increased more rapidly prior to gay marriage, but those were first births, when the custom was still to marry sometime after the arrival of the first child. That was the “easy” part of the growth in the out-of-wedlock birthrate. What’s happened since gay marriage is that couples are increasingly waiting till after two and three children have been born before marrying--or not marrying at all. That is a much deeper and more disturbing change. Comparing that to the earlier rise in what were essentially first child out-of-wedlock birthrates is comparing apples and oranges. There’s more to be said here, but the main point is that the Netherlands example proves what Badgett denies--that when you bring gay marriage into a country where there had not previously been a high rate of parental cohabitation, the rate of out-of-wedlock births does in fact shoot up quite sharply. I’ll have much more on the Netherlands soon.
Posted at 08:52 AM
RE: HOLLYWOOD SMOKERS [John Derbyshire]
A reader spotted this in the New York Daily News:
Headline: Some stars are giving war a chance LOS ANGELES - It was hard to find an actor who wasn't wearing some kind of peace pin on Oscar night. But as war invaded the Academy Awards, a few stars were willing to let President Bush finish what's he started. "We can't go back now," Brad Pitt told us. "We're in this together as Americans. We're going to have to go in and get the job done as soon as possible." Pitt remains skeptical about "the connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Why attack now?" But he respects Bush for "pushing the issue, so people were forced to take a stand." Now that diplomacy has failed, Pitt said, "we have to be productive instead of concentrating on what we should have done. Where do we go from this day forward?"
Posted at 08:47 AM
WHITE HOUSE "CLOWNS"? [Tim Graham]
Apparently, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter started venting on Air America about how the Bushies are "clowns" and "astonishingly incompetent." The only mistake one can make in assessing these remarks is believing that he ISN'T this opinionated in print.
Posted at 08:26 AM
LIBERAL ROOTS, CONT'D [Jonah Goldberg ]
The response from various liberal readers to my post yesterday on generalized liberal amnesia to their own intellectual roots has been frustrating and depressing.
Frustrating because lots of them repeat points made when we had this go-round last April, which is nicely ironic since part of my point is that liberals condemn themselves to repeating their mistakes by not knowing their history -- even, it turns out, when it's a month old.
It's depressing because it has revealed a root to the problem liberals have -- or at least the problem conservatives have with liberals: The arrogant belief that they don't need to have a philosophy or "right way of thinking" because they are so dynamic, decent and good while conservatives are so hidebound with dogma, mean and bad. Here's how one guy put it (this is an excerpt since the whole email is too long):
I'm sitting here chuckling because I can imagine you smacking yourself in the forehead once you "get" this one. With all due respect, the nature of your criticism is an almost too-perfect encapsulation of the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives. Think about what you wrote: "...liberals -- again as a gross generalization -- are much less interested in, and knowledgeable of, their own intellectual history." First of all, what might clear up some of your apparent confusion is a better understanding of liberalism. Conservatives tend to think of liberalism as "what Hillary Clinton says"; at least, most of the criticisms directed at liberals by conservatives center around the policies of the leftward side of the Democratic party. In some ways, I can't really fault you as a conservative for thinking this way, because that world view quite literally defines conservatism. For better or worse, conservatives believe that everything has its place, and for the most part that place can be determined by what has come before. Liberals, on the other hand, view the world as a far more dynamic, constantly evolving system to which humans must adapt in order to progress (hence the term "progressive"). Now, this is a very clinical definition of liberalism, but what it really means is that liberals do not subscribe to the notion that maintaining the status quo (or returning to a status quo ante) is always preferable, nor that it is impossible to overcome certain limitations imposed by the "human condition" (such as poverty, war, etc). So, to come back to your point, the "intellectual history" of liberalism is inherently less of a factor for liberals because a core ideal of liberalism is for each person to develop his or her own ideas without being indoctrinated into a specific way of thinking. Any dogmatic approaches to politics you see from the left most likely come from the simple, pragmatic fact that our adversaries on the right have so many more weapons of mass persuasion at their disposal than liberals do. Make no mistake about it: there is no "liberal" mainstream media, just (and I'll use a "gross generalization" here) a relatively tolerant (in ethnic terms), flag-waving collection of stooges who usually pander to whichever faction of the Republicrat party happens to be in power until a shift in the political winds is detected. Fox "News" is probably the only exception to this rule, but fortunately I don't believe any station can maintain credibility even among its redneck audience for very long. With more and more people getting their news from the Internet, it just doesn't seem like it will be possible for very much longer to so blatantly distort events in that uniquely Foxian way.
Me: I left in all the blather about Fox and Republicans because I think it illustrates my point. Without knowledge of its own past, liberalism cannot have a serious political philosophy, it can only have feelings. I was amazed last summer at a political conference for college kids at the way the professional Democrats and liberals on a panel -- with the exception of Peter Beinart -- all began their presentations with "I believe" this or "I feel passionately" that. The conservatives and libertarians (save one lame "conservative feminist") all started either from first philosophy or history (and the lame conservative feminist was lame because she tried to do that and failed).
It is a sign of the arrogance of liberals that they brag -- as so many have done in their emails -- that they don't "need to know what to believe" or to know history or to have a philosophy or to, in effect, know their homework. They simply know what's right. Even Kevin Drum subscribed somewhat to this point. It is also a sign of the triumph of two strains in liberal intellectual history converging: pragmatism and intellectual radicalism (by which I mean critical legal studies and the like). Both schools of thought reject the notion that "dogma" and "tradition" are useful sources of knowledge or morality, respectively. The critical legal types know a lot of history, but only to condemn American institutions as sexist, racist etc. The pragmatists reject history on principle. It is amazing how brilliant so many liberals are at dissecting beliefs and arguments and so un-brilliant at presenting their own set of beliefs. Quick: What does Michael Kinsley, the "Dean of Smart Liberalism" believe?
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this for my book, and I've concluded that the problem with liberalism isn't lack of money or organization or media access (please God, stop their whining about Fox News and the American Enterprise Institute for pete's sake, they look ridiculous). Their biggest problem is they don't have a philosophy. This causes a lack of organization. This causes a lack of popular ideas. This is why the Democratic Party defines itself in such reactionary terms -- blocking Republicans, creating lockboxes, yelling "stop" and "no" a la Al Gore and so on. Today the only issue that unifies liberals or the Democrats is their hatred of George W. Bush and to a lesser extent "his" war. That's not a program, that's not a philosophy, that's not even liberalism. That's a gripe.
Posted at 07:18 AM
THE SARIN SHUFFLE [Jonah Goldberg]
At this point I'm open to the notion that the sarin shell means nothing. But it really does seem that a great number of people are not open to the idea that it means something. Good points from Collin Levey:
We felt a little like we'd fallen down a rabbit hole this week on hearing that an artillery shell that tested positive for sarin had been discovered in a roadside bomb in Baghdad. It wasn't the nasty stuff itself that was curious — as Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld intimated, some stray chemical munitions could signify any number of things, or not much at all. The extraordinary part was the tizzy the media and various noteworthies were in to discount it. It hadn't been but a few hours since the news broke when former U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix grabbed a microphone somewhere to huff that the discovery meant nothing. Others briskly offered that the shell was more likely the bounty of a scavenger hunt by yahoos who didn't even know what they had. Fair enough to be sure: At this point, none of us knows. But even forgetting the potency of one drop of liquid sarin, when did the prospect of the accidental use of loose WMDs become reassuring?
Posted at 06:55 AM
Thursday, May 20, 2004
THE LONG ROLL OUT [KJL]
Abu Ghraib, worse still. (Drudge has more.)
Posted at 11:21 PM
A READER ASKS [KJL]
k-lo,I bet "the suits" would consider it if there was a chance such donations would ever make it past me.
Posted at 09:42 PM
SARIN? WHAT SARIN? [KJL]
Worth reading Lt. Smash here.
Posted at 09:39 PM
RE: BUSH FLOPPED [KJL]
Someone explain the logic of him being so on at Concordia College last week (you must read that speech if you have not) and going to the Hill and just agitating more for no good reason. I feared it was a bad omen for today when he seemed so grouchy (understandably) about his energy plan being held up in Congress yesterday. The man is a leader, it's so frustrating when that is not communicated. John Podhoretz had the right idea--his book remains a must-read for this election--the other day when he wrote that Bush needs to be bold. With all the negative media (I know, I know, "Bush Flopped" doesn't help, right? But we don't work for the campaign here.), he needs to rise above, and, in many ways, be himself. He's a gutsy guy with the right instincts.
That said, I was very down an hour or so ago about all of this--what will happen after the handover, what that will do to Bush in November, hearing Nancy Pelosi in my head...and then...I gave Victor Davis Hanson a good read. Soul food I tell you. He'll see you tomorrow morning...
Posted at 09:30 PM
LEO ON BISHOPS & KERRY, ETC. [KJL]
I just realized his column this week is on the topic. I'm using The Corner right now to remind me to read it. Here it is. Now I'll be able to easily find it.
Posted at 09:15 PM
IS THERE ANY OTHER TINA? [Robert A. George]
Ramesh, I believe that would have to be the one and only Tina Brown, whose column can be found in the Washington Post, and the New York Sun.
Posted at 08:54 PM
ABOUT TVC [Steve Hayward]
Having watched, and cringed over, Lou Sheldon up close for too long in California, I am equally appalled at the feature in the Post today. I can't help but wonder whether this isn't a page out of Soviet disinformation, i.e., the media doing a profile of the most discreditable opponent of gay marriage as a means of tarring by association more reasonable and serious opponents of gay marriage.
Then there is this from Sheldon in 1976 (from p. 68 of my book, The Real Jimmy Carter--plug, plug): "God has his hand upon Jimmy Carter to run for President. Of course, he's wise enough not to be presumptuous with the will of God. But he's moving in the will of God."
Should anyone stupid enough to have said this be admitted in the conservative tent?
Posted at 08:39 PM
NOT PLAYING TO TYPE [Ramesh Ponnuru]
With Democrats urging Bush to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and Republicans saying he shouldn't, it's nice to see NRO running an article taking the "Democratic" and The New Republic running one taking the "Republican" position.
Posted at 06:10 PM
RE: RE: TVC [Ramesh Ponnuru]
But don't Post reporters read the Post? A week after my first article appeared, two Post reporters landed on page one with a rewrite (and a glancing mention of NR). . . . I think the Sheldons were treated pretty easily, and the Post is doing conservatives no favors in talking them up.
Posted at 05:43 PM
I LOVE THIS FEATURE [Ramesh Ponnuru]
No idea who this "Tina" person is, though.
Posted at 05:37 PM
NO DEMOCRATIC GAFFES [Tim Graham]
I guess it would be pointless to take bets as to how little the TV networks will cover Nancy Pelosi's Bush-killed-soldiers line will get tonight? Even if they made a Pelosi-Hollings gaffe double-decker....
Posted at 05:31 PM
RE: TVC [Tim Graham]
Ramesh, you know the answer. Washington Post reporters are too narrow-minded and don't read NRO. (Although that's no excuse: a Google search for "lou sheldon tvc" finds a Ponnuru link on page 2 of the results.) Putting that point aside, though, I was fascinated that the proponents of what proponents call "gay marriage" don't have their profiles accompanied by photos and pull quotes of their critics, but the Sheldons get both in the Post today.
Posted at 05:12 PM
A BARGAIN! [KJL]
Posted at 04:44 PM
BLYTH IN THE CITY [KJL]
If you're looking for something cool to do in NYC tonight: Myrna Blyth is speaking tonight at a NY Young Republican club meeting. It's open to all at 7 PM at 3 West 51st St. Let them know we sent you.
Posted at 04:09 PM
BUSH FLOPS [Rich Lowry]
I'm hearing that Bush flopped in his meeting with congressional Republicans. He gave them a pep talk, telling them how good the economy is and how determined he is to prevail in Iraq. Then he didn't take any questions and left. The members, expecting a more substantive session, were disappointed.
Posted at 04:08 PM
RE: PUNITIVE DAMAGES [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
I am an attorney in California, and I represent management in employment disputes. The reason that you should not like Governor Schwartzenegger's 75% tax on punitive damages is two-fold: 1. In those states that have such a tax, courts have been less likely to reduce exorbitant punitive damage awards from run-a-mok juries. Could it be that judges see such a tax as a wonderful way of filling the state coffers, which in turn will hopefully increase budgets for state courts and salaries for court officials (like judges)? Ummmmm, could be . . . . 2. Also, note that such taxes usually come with a "lawyers eat first" provision. Thus, the lawyers take their cut and then the rest is awarded to the state. This is why businesses oppose this tax but the trial lawyers see no problem with it. Sort of contradicts your concern that punitive damages are paid to attorneys, eh? No names please . . . .
Posted at 03:21 PM
A LIBERAL RESPONDS [Jonah Goldberg ]
Mark Schmitt at the American Prospect responds to my observation that contemporary liberals don't know very much about their own intellectual history. Alas, he seems needlessly scornful of my "mostly incorrect" assertion, considering the fact that it launched a new column at The American Prospect and was sufficiently true to keep him thinking about it for more than a month. This seems especially so since I wrote at the time of my assertion: "Obviously this is a sweeping -- and therefore unfair -- generalization."
This partly has to do with the nature of liberal-leftism on college campuses (which are more spread out into different and often competing identity politics groups concerned with complaining more than arguing) as opposed to the right (fairly unified into one or two organizations).
But I don't need Schmitt to confirm for me what I've observed first hand for several years now; liberals -- again as a gross generalization -- are much less interested in, and knowledgeable of, their own intellectual history. In fact, many of the intellectual liberal journalist types I've met seem to know the intellectual history of conservatives better than they know their own side's. I could be wrong about that but I don't think I'm very wrong.
Posted at 03:17 PM
FISHES JUMPIN', COTTON HIGH [John Derbyshire]
I am feeling exceptionally mellow. The sun is shining brightly in a near-cloudless sky after several days of rain & damp. People have been mowing lawns all around, & the air is full of the fragrance of cut grass -- one of my favorites. All I can hear is birdsong and the tot next door squealing with delight as she chases butterflies round the flower beds. My wife is calling me to "Come and sit out in the garden -- it's so lovely." There's an hour till the kids come home from school. Life is good. Signing off for the day.
Posted at 02:58 PM
EHRLICH AGAIN? [Jonathan H. Adler]
Speaking of people who should just go away, apparently Paul "Population Bomb" Ehrlich has another book out. This time, he insists, the environmental disaster is real. Ron Bailey actually suffered through reading Ehrlich's latest, and dissects the mad scientist here.
Posted at 02:58 PM
MR. MOORE GOES TO WASHINGTON [Jonathan H. Adler]
Former Alabama Justice Roy Moore is apparently trying to have his Ten Commandments monument placed in the U.S. Capitol. (Feddie has the scoop.) Why won't this man just go away?
Posted at 02:57 PM
RE: CHALABI [KJL]
The CPA says Chalabi wasn't the target of the raid. I currently don't know much more than what everyone else is reading.
Posted at 02:53 PM
CHALABI [Jonah Goldberg]
A few readers have written to ask what I think about the Chalabi stuff. The fact is I don't know what to think. I'm not ducking the issue, I just don't know what to think about it. When I get further up to speed, I'll let ya know.
Posted at 02:47 PM
SOUNDS GOOD TO ME [Jonah Goldberg]
My biggest peeve with the trial lawyer industry has been the practice of giving the lawyers and the plaintiffs the money from punitive damages. If they're punitive they're not compensatory and therefore the plaintiff has no special claim on them. Why not give the money to charity or to a fund to fix the problem being punished or give it back to the consumer in the form of tax rebates. Whatever. Well, Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposing a 75% tax on punitive damages. (Nod to Instapundit). Jonathan? Ramesh? Is there a reason we shouldn't like this idea?
Posted at 02:44 PM
AN IDEA [Jonah Goldberg]
All this talk about money, NRO get-togethers, fundraising, tree houses, mortgages etc has phrenologically engaged. Maybe one of these days NRO should host some kind of barn-raising, house-building type thing. I may detest Jimmy Carter but Habitats for Humanity doesn't offend me. Maybe there's something like that we could all do? Beers, picnic grub and some sort of construction type thing for a good cause? Conservatives talk about civil society being better than government, maybe we could do something like that, help out NRO and have the oft-discussed but never materialized "meet-up" of NROniks.
Or am I particularly high?
Posted at 01:59 PM
HERE IN SPRINGFIELD... [KJL]
From a reader: Just finished donating $100 and I feel warm all over! I don't know if it was Derb posting his tax returns, Jonah's words of wisdom, or Kathryn being more persistent then Bart and Lisa Simpson pestering Homer to take them to an amusement park, but I just had to give.
On the serious side, what you guys provide me everyday is worth more then I ponied up. If I had the $50,000 to give for that dinner at Kate's it would have arrived already. Thanks.
Posted at 01:52 PM
RE: HOLLYWOOD SMOKERS [John Derbyshire]
Two reader responses:
Reader A---"Pitt is a southerner. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a closet conservative. I've never seen or read him say anything out of Left field. There are more conservatives in Hollywood than you'd think but they have the good sense to keep their mouths shut."
[Me---If he's a Southerner, shouldn't he be chewing the stuff?]
Reader B---"C'mon John, that's an easy one. I can answer it in four words, not my words, but Lenin's words: 'vanguard of the proletariat'. The 'vanguard' gets excused a few non-PC excesses (eg, smoking) because of the extreme effort involved in leading the rest of us talent free idiots to Utopia. They are essentially redistributionists, class warfare proponents and environmentalists when it comes to you and I. But none of them are beckoning the 'losers of life's lottery' to live in their mansions (or even on the grounds), eat their food, etc. They're sending their kids to private schools, but crappy public schools are good enough for the likes of us. We need to ride a bike or drive an econobox death trap to save the planet's resources, they take limos or private jets, build massive houses on disappearing beachfronts, have 20 cars, indulge in private ownership of what would otherwise be a national park or job producing forest, etc, etc, etc. Because of their access to a public forum, they get to harangue us about our uncompassionate political views ('Republican, right between reptile and repugnant in the dictionary'...) So a little smoking surprises you? Anyhow, you asked for a theory. KBO."
[Me---I love it when people drop subtle references to my past columns. That valedictory "KBO" refers to this ]
Posted at 01:49 PM
RE: RE: FULL DISCLOSURE [John Derbyshire]
Yeah, Jonah, been meaning to talk to you about those rain gutters
Gimme a call, would you?
Posted at 01:47 PM
RE: RE: FULL DISCLOSURE [John Derbyshire]
Yeah, Jonah, been meaning to talk to you about those rain gutters
Gimme a call, would you?
Posted at 01:46 PM
OH YEAH [Jonah Goldberg]
Unlike Derb, I still have a bone-crushing, soul-killing, gravity-bending mortgage.
Posted at 01:36 PM
THE TROUBLE WITH FULL-DISCLOSURE [Jonah Goldberg]
Now readers want to know what I make. Well, good luck finding out. I will tell you that I am essentially on half-pay from NRO (imagine the sound of a saltine cracker being snapped in two) until the G-File is back and I start writing for the mag again (remember I'm on quasi leave to write the Neverending Story, er, my book). Also, I've always been a glorified consultant to NRO. I carry my own freight on health care and I make extra money taking care of Derb's rain gutters on weekend (generous Wall Street tycoon that he is).
I'm not really complaining (much). The suits at NR have actually been quite kind to me over the years, despite my ribbing. But, again, if you think people work at NR for the money, it's time to get off the pipe. And, even if we were the best-compensated journalists in America, making Vanity Fair wages or some such, I would still say Kathryn is grossly underpaid.
Posted at 01:29 PM
RE: PHRENOLOGY [Jonah Goldberg]
Rick - The bump of smartness is sufficiently large that my phrenological calculator says that I think X percent of the time and X equals 100!
Posted at 01:22 PM
RE: FULL DISCLOSURE [John Derbyshire]
Outrage is sweeping the nation over the wretched pittance on which the Derbs are obliged to subsist. Before you mail off the food parcel, though, just a couple more notes. 1--I socked away a fair amount in investments during my years as a Wall St worker bee, and this bundle is growing away quietly in the background. 2--We're debt-free: no mortgage, no car payments, no credit card balances. We operate a cash economy. 3--Got another book under way. 4--I am daily, hourly, deeply and fundamentally happy, and consider myself an extremely lucky guy. When people sign off e-mails with "God bless you" (which, God bless *them*!, they frequently do), I e-mail back: "He already has."
Posted at 01:20 PM
PHRENOLOGY [Rick Brookhiser]
Ah Jonah, but which parts of your head are biggest? Your bump of amativeness, or of veneration, or of sublimity? Small differences have huge consequences in exact sciences.
Posted at 01:02 PM
BACK FROM CRUISE [Rich Lowry]
The NR cruiseship arrived back in New York yesterday. The only thing better than being in Bermuda, is being there with Jim Woolsey, Richard Perle, Midge Decter, John O'Sullivan, John Hillen, Radek Sikorski, and various luminaries from the NR crew. You still have time to sign up for the November trip.
Posted at 12:47 PM
GOT ANOTHER ONE [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Posted at 12:44 PM
PELOSI BEYOND THE PALE [Rich Lowry]
The Associated Press is reporting these comments by Nancy Pelosi today:
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called President Bush ‘incompetent’ and said he is responsible for hundreds of deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
‘Bush is an incompetent leader. In fact, he's not a leader,’ Pelosi told the San Francisco Chronicle in a 45-minute interview Wednesday in her Capitol office. ‘He's a person who has no judgment, no experience and no knowledge of the subjects that he has to decide upon.’
Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, is a frequent critic of the president and led the effort against the war in 2003. But this was her strongest criticism of Bush to date.‘He has on his shoulders the deaths of many more troops, because he would not heed the advice of his own State Department of what to expect after May 1 when he ... declared that major combat is over,’ Pelosi said. ‘The shallowness that he has brought to the office has not changed since he got there.’…
Pelosi also said the only way to get allies to commit more troops to Iraq is to have a new president.
‘Not to get personal about it, but the president's capacity to lead has never been there,’ Pelosi said. ‘In order to lead, you have to have judgment. In order to have judgment, you have to have knowledge and experience. He has none.’”
Posted at 12:38 PM
THE NY TIMES ON COMMUNION [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Posted at 12:33 PM
(IN)TOLERANCE AT EMORY [Jonathan H. Adler]
Erin O'Connor has more on Critical Mass.
Posted at 12:18 PM
FULL DISCLOSURE [John Derbyshire]
Heck, politicians do it. I'll do it, too, if it will help the fundraiser by disabusing people of the notion that NRO is swilling in money. Here you go.
(Notes: 1--I'm a freelancer, paid by the piece, not a salaried employee of anybody. 2--My wife works part-time. 3--2003 was a "dead year" for book income. My advance came in instalments in 2001-02, last year I was earning off my advance, this year I am actually getting some royalties.)
Posted at 12:11 PM
RE: TWO MORE LAME ARGUMENTS [Jonah Goldberg]
Ramesh - I know we've discussed the lapse in Congress' obligation to uphold the Constitution on its own before. But isn't that second argument -- "2) Congressmen are obligated to vote for abortion by the Supreme Court" even more pernicious? Or am I missing something? Is it a widespread point of view that the Supreme Court's rulings bar Congressman from voting in favor of things the Supreme Court might have ruled unconstitutional? Am I misunderstanding something or isn't that troubling regardless of the abortion issue?
Posted at 12:00 PM
ANGEL REAX [Jonah Goldberg]
I won't over do this for fear of elicting a Corner ban. But here are a few emails from readers:
Hello Jonah, Yes, the finale did seem rushed but it also conveyed - intentionally, I believe - the idea that "the work" (battling evil) goes on. I hope Angel does land on another network, but I think Joss deliberately set this ending up to illustrate that Angel and the crew's battle will continue, we just won't be witness to it. And some day, on some battlefield, Buffy and Angel will once more stand side by side against the forces of darkness and I hope that moment occurs on the silver screen of a multiplex near me.
Yes, you are wrong.
Dear Jonah, I hope you are right, that Angel does come back. I thought it was a little rushed as well, and set up such that Angel can "jump networks" like Taxi, or more recently, Buffy did. I had heard that Joss has a deal to make a few TV movies/specials/microseries, but you know how things are in Hollywood. Nobody's word means a damn thing until after the film is distributed at the theaters, or the program is on the air. Why does everyone have this thing about dragons? That is one spot that really upset me, Angel's closing line about how he wanted to kill the dragon. Just because you are big, winged, breathe fire, and have a taste for virgins, everybody is on your case. There is way too much anti-dragon bias in television, the movies and fiction in general.
Jonah: Unfortunately, the sets have been struck, some even destroyed. Joss is busy getting the "Firefly" movie into production. However, I was thinking the same thing last night. I kept waiting for Andrew and Giles and Buffy to show up with about a hundred Britney Spears clones. Wesley sure could have used Willow's help, but I am pretty sure he went there to die so he could be with Fred.
Posted at 11:54 AM
TWO MORE LAME ARGUMENTS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
on communion, this time from 48 Catholic House Democrats: 1) Denying it to pro-abortion politicians would inflame anti-Catholic prejudice. So the Church should refrain from teaching what it believes to be true, and endanger the souls of its members, because people won't like it? The way to work against anti-Catholic prejudice is to cease to be Catholic to the extent it provokes prejudice or opposition? Maybe these guys should work against anti-Catholic prejudice by defending the Church's position (or at least attempting to understand it better than their statement suggests). 2) Congressmen are obligated to vote for abortion by the Supreme Court. Not true. Assuming that the Court got the Constitution wrong, there is no obligation to vote for bills based on its decision. And if you really felt that legal abortion was an unjust denial of justice to the unborn--the Church's teaching, which is not a matter of "personal" morality in the sense the Democrats' letter would have it--but that the Constitution required it, you would be obligated to work to change the Constitution. The vast majority of these congressmen have done no such thing.
Posted at 11:50 AM
"OK, YOU GOT ME" [Jonah Goldberg ]
Your piece today convinced me that it's not enough for an open-minded liberal like myself to read NRO daily, I must pay my fair share of the cost by subscribing.
Posted at 11:49 AM
RE: HOLLYWOOD SMOKERS [John Derbyshire]
A reader explains, sort of: "Derb---All models and actresses smoke because smoking raises your metabolism, curbs your appetite and helps keep you thin. The average person gains about 20 pounds when they quit smoking. I can't lay my lands on the medical studies, but it's a fact and one of the reasons smoking among teenage girls is on the rise."
But what about Brad?
Posted at 11:46 AM
BAD JUDICIAL DEAL? [Jonathan H. Adler]
Some conservatives definitely think so, reports The Hill. Sure, the President will get two dozen non-controversial judicial nominations confirmed, but at the cost of two important weapons in the fight over judicial nominations: 1) the threat of recess appointments, and 2) clear evidence of Democrat obstructionism. On the other hand, Larry Solum has a long blog post suggesting the "compromise" merely restored the status quo ante.
Posted at 11:43 AM
TODAY'S LEAD WAPO EDITORIAL [Ramesh Ponnuru]
nicely illustrates what I've found so despicable about that editorial page's campaign to tie the Iraqi prisoner abuse to the administration's interpretation of the Geneva Conventions. White House counsel Alberto Gonzales is said to have shown "contempt for the rule of law" by disagreeing with the Post's views of the law. Never mind that passages of Gonzales's memo quoted by the Post show that he was quite mindful of the danger of abuse rather than contemptuously dismissive of that danger.
Posted at 11:37 AM
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CEI [Jonathan H. Adler]
Last night I attended the 20th Anniversary dinner of my former employer, the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The festivities included a speech by Treasury Secretary John Snow who celebrated tax cuts and deregulation, a tribute to Norman Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for fathering the "green revolution" and continues to champion the promise of technology in solving global environmental problems, remarks by CEI's President, the irrepressible Fred L. Smith, Jr., and the traditional after-party featuring cordials and complemeentary cigars. I am glad there are outfits inside-the-beltway that know how to party. Happy Birthday CEI!
Posted at 11:37 AM
ASTOUNDING CORRECTION [Jonathan H. Adler]
From today's NYT:
An article on Monday about the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that ended school segregation misstated a word in a paraphrase from President Bush, who attended a ceremony in Topeka, Kan. He called for a continuing battle to end racial inequality — not equalityWhat does it say about a newspaper that it could publish an article reporting the President called for an end to "racial equality" in the first place?
Posted at 11:35 AM
CONSERVATIVES UNWELCOME AT EMORY? [Jonah Goldberg]
I'm not sure I follow all the back story but someone sent me this letter from Harvey Klehr at Emory. I like Klehr. I like the Emory College Republicans. I like stirring the pot.
Posted at 11:33 AM
"I DON'T HAVE TO DEFEND MYSELF TO FOX NEWS" [KJL]
Fox News has been running now a series of ridiculous "interviews" with Sevan, the head of U.N. Oil-for-Food. They consist of a reporter chasing Sevan, asking him the same questions again and again, and getting nowhere. Sevan responds to the fifth or so "Did you profit off the program?" with "Do you speak English?" Very useful stuff. But I have seen two of them now, and the point always seems to be, for Sevan, that it is Fox, which is not a legitimate news organ, because they are questioning him. Of course, for all the grief it gets, and as silly as these "exclusives" are, where's CNN staking him out? This is a huge story. Where is everyone?
Posted at 11:24 AM
SIERRA CLUB V. PRYOR [Jonathan H. Adler]
The Sierra Club filed a motion to disqualify Judge Bill Pryor of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in a pending case, arguing that his recess appointment is invalid. More details at How Appealing.
Posted at 11:20 AM
A STAFF WRITER FOR BUSINESS WEEK ONLINE [Ramesh Ponnuru]
weighs in on the Kerry-communion question. Her thoughtful verdict: "[T]he Church -- for centuries no stranger to abuse of power, muddled priorities, and interfering where it shouldn't -- seems to be at it again."
Posted at 11:12 AM
HOLLYWOOD SMOKERS [John Derbyshire]
Was just reading in today's New York Post (America's Newspaper of Record) an interview with Kate Hudson, about how she slimmed down again after her recent confinement. (The online version seems to have a different text & doesn't mention the following.) Well, one thing she says is that she quit smoking while pregnant, but has now taken it up again.
Just the other day I was reading an interview with Brad Pitt (hey, it beats reading about politicszzzzz) about the work he had to do to buff up for his new Trojan-war movie. He grumbled about ahving had to quit smoking. I recall his wife, Jennifer Aniston, is also a cigarette smoker.
Do all these young Hollywood studs and hotties smoke cigarettes? Aren't they supposed to be PC? What's going on here? Anyone got a theory?
Posted at 11:08 AM
WHY NRO? [KJL]
I've been getting many emails from readers (and I'm sorry I haven't responded personally to them all yet, I hope to) who honestly love reading NRO but who honestly don't buy that we need money. Heck, why would you believe it? The problem, I'm told, is that NRO looks too good. The product is too good. How can a full-fledged magazine come out every weekday, with treats for the weekend too, and not be poshly rewarded?
Well, we're rewarded in good feedback, impact on the Hill, in Baghdad and elsewhere, but that, you see, is why we are as good as we are. Because we believe in it. We care about the product because we know it is worthwhile. There are people here who have given up holidays and weekends and, goodness knows, many a weeknight, to work to bring you the best we can on a shoestring budget. NR has always been that way. And now, filling the gaps that a fortnightly necessarily leaves, that's what NRO does, with mostly the same, shared staff, and shared budget. Everyone familiar with National Review--I know some of your are happy, long-term subscribers--knows of its financial limitations and its need to husband its resources. That's reality, the nature of the opinionjournalism beast. And yet, because this is about a mission and a philosophy, the sages of National Review have made a choice to put money into NRO--necessary deficit spending--because they know it's the right thing to do. Everyone at NR knows the vital importance of National Review Online, this daily, hourly, near-universally accessible clearinghouse/buzz machine-or cyber think tank, as Mark Levin puts it in his audio message. The impact that NRO has had on the American political and cultural scene had made investing in it a necessity. But it is an investment that had put a tremendous burden on our whole National Review operation. NR has never made a profit in its 50 years of existence-and NRO isn't helping matters.
A few people have asked me: Should I give to NRO or the starving kids in Ethiopia? Different levels there, but I'd give to both. I do. I'm not trying to put us on the same plane as a group that puts food in a child's mouth but I would like to think that we have done a little something to advance some crucial, life-and-death issues. I know we have. I wouldn't waste my time if there weren't a real-world point to this all. I don't think any of us would.
In fact, you'd be amazed how many NRO authors have given money in the past few days of the fundraising drive. And, I tell you, these are mostly people who are not in comfortable offices themselves-they're writing while the kids are asleep and sending their work in the wee hours, being edited in the wee hours-and all hours. Why go through the trouble-and spend money, too? Because they know it works. And they also know they can't get the kids off no-frills ice cream for the summer with the NRO pay. They know firsthand we're not messing around with money.
Anyway, I do apologize for all the bombardment. But then again, this is all free, and this is a few days of making the case. NRO is some 10-20 pieces a day, continuous commentary and analysis and reporting, with people-you'd be surprised-who write for nothing. Like, as in zero. I'm not whining. No one is. But these are the facts. And this is why we are heartened and sincerely grateful for every contribution that comes our way. Thanks for hearing us out and thanks for considering adding your financial support to NRO. And, yes, if your NRO-reading cousin happens to be a millionaire, you might nudge him a little!
We've got all the links you need on the homepage to donate or subscribe to NR Digital or the paper edition of the paper mag, the institution WFB founded in 1955. Make use of them if you can. And e-mail me if you have any questions or problems.
Posted at 11:08 AM
FLIP-FLOP-FLIP [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Kerry promised during the primaries to appoint to the Supreme Court only justices who favor Roe v. Wade because "people who go to the Supreme Court ought to interpret the Constitution as it is interpreted, and if they have another point of view, then they're not supporting the Constitution, which is what a judge does." Yesterday, he said that he would be willing to appoint anti-Roe justices so long as the Court had a pro-Roe majority. ("Supporting the Constitution" was apparently no longer a requirement for his nominees.) The abortion lobby expressed its displeasure, and reasonably so given its principles--if Clinton had followed that policy, the Court might have upheld bans on partial-birth abortion and pro-lifers would need to switch only one more vote to overturn Roe. So now Kerry is saying that he will nominate only pro-Roe justices.
The flop-flip was accompanied by some unconvincing spin. Here's what Kerry said yesterday: "I will not appoint somebody with a 5-4 court who's about to undo Roe v. Wade. I've said that before. But that doesn't mean that if that's not the balance of the court I wouldn't be prepared ultimately to appoint somebody to some court who has a different point of view. I've already voted for people like that. I voted for Judge Scalia." Nedra Pickler's AP story has Kerry aides saying that "some court" was a reference to lower federal courts, not the Supreme Court.
Aides said later that "some court" was not a reference to the Supreme Court, only lower federal benches. That is hard to reconcile with his prefatory reference to a 5-4 Supreme Court or with the Scalia example--in other words, with anything he said.
Still unclear is whether he would appoint appeals-court judges who are anti-Roe. But he has been supporting filibusters of Bush judicial nominees for less than that: A major complaint against Priscilla Owen has been that she read a parental-notification law in a way the abortion lobby found disagreeable.
Posted at 11:03 AM
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE [Ramesh Ponnuru]
to write a story about the Traditional Values Coalition that a) doesn't mention the group's well-known financial corruption and b) calls Andrea Lafferty of the TVC "one of [Washington's] top lobbyists effective without mentioning that she is barred from attending meetings of social conservatives on Capitol Hill because of that corruption? For background on this, read here, here, and here.
Posted at 10:29 AM
RUSSERT'S THREAT TO THE FIRST AMENDMENT [KJL]
Jonah, you'll enjoy, if you haven't seen: looks like his staff and Powell's have something in common, like you suggested they might.
Posted at 10:29 AM
SADR ON THE RISE? THINK AGAIN. [KJL]
From the treasured IraqtheModel blog; a conversation with a taxi driver:
-Where do you live?There's more, too. Go read.
Posted at 09:52 AM
There was a technical bug in Andy McCarthy's piece this morning--if you read it before just now and were confused, it wasn't you. It's all good now--safe to read without worrying about your eyesight.
It's that cheap beer the NRO slaves are forced to drink from the office watercooler...
Posted at 09:30 AM
RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS OPPOSE KYOTO [Jonathan H. Adler]
Iain Murray asks: Will the major media report that Russia's tpo scientists are telling Putin not to adopt the Kyoto Protocol?
Posted at 09:01 AM
"THE CRISIS" [Dave Kopel]
Rob S. Rice is a classicist and poet whose poems on the current war have earned the favor of OpinionJournal, among others. Dr. Rice also helps me produce my monthly free e-mail newsletter on Second Amendment issues. Here's Dr. Rice's newest verse.
Posted at 08:56 AM
ECONOMY MEASURE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Regular readers of this Corner understand the concept of a "bleg." But for how much longer will they be given the privilege of telling us what they know about, well, just about everything in return for absolutely nothing? Times are so hard around here that, once again, the suits have asked us to consider a further round of economies at NRO World Headquarters. Blood. Stone. Well. Dry. What more can we do? Wages have already been cut so, so low that Indian companies are now outsourcing work to NRO staff, our PCs are powered by squirrel-driven treadmill (thanks Cosmo!), and our only source of outside information is reading other people's newspapers on the subway. That's not enough, it seems. Not for the suits. Oh nooo. We've now been told that, unless vast sums are raised by this current shameless and rather frenzied panhandling, certain letters of the alphabet, starting, apparently, with "l" are "too expensive" and may no longer be used in The Corner. Think what that would mean to your daily digest of ranting, raving, and occasional nuggets of information. Consider the horrors of Owry, Opez, Godberg, and worst of all the shame of the bleg. Blegging would just be reduced to begging. And that would never do.
Posted at 08:55 AM
REAL-WORLD ADVICE [KJL]
Peggy Noonan talks to a swing voter leaning Kerry and translates it into a little advice for the W. camp.
Posted at 08:30 AM
THE DERB [KJL]
Have you listened to him yet this week?
Posted at 08:18 AM
CHALABI'S HOUSE GETS RAIDED [KJL]
Posted at 08:14 AM
ANGEL [Jonah Goldberg]
I watched the series finale last night and struck me as a rushed season finale. Considering the show's popularity and the WB's relative lack of same, I really think the network suits should be ashamed of themselves to let the show die the way they did. My hope is that Joss Whedon left it as such a cliff-hangery show precisely because some other network might pick it up. I said this was my hope, not my expectation. Though such things have happened before. Remember "Taxi" switched networks.
Am I wrong or did the final scene seem perfectly set-up for the calvalry-like arrival of the slayer army?
Posted at 08:09 AM
GREAT 9/11 COMMISSION MOMENTS [KJL ]
Did you see Mike Bloomberg’s testimony? He blasts “Washington” for porking and Bob Kerrey nearly falls off his chair, nodding so much, so enthusiastically. YES, YES—I HATE WASHINGTON, TOO! CAMERAS…ON ME…ON ME.
Posted at 07:38 AM
BOY SCOUTS [KJL]
I'm coffeeless, so bear with me. I’m not 100-percent certain what I think of John Lehman’s “Boy Scout” comment at the 9/11 hearings Tuesday. Frankly, he’s been one of the few adults in the room at this showboat commission. I fluctuate between thinking the Boy Scout comment outrage is a little overdone—he was not demeaning anyone, he was working on outlining a better response system--and thinking even Lehman has been brought down by this nonsense, ineffectual commission. What I actually think I think the most is that the Boy Scout moment was an easy venting opportunity for what everyone is beginning to get: i.e. the nonsense of this commission.
Posted at 07:37 AM
OH NO THE JEWS [John Derbyshire]
Jonah: You don't need to be named "Goldberg" to get that stuff. Any time I say anything favorable about Israel, I get 'em. For your information -- I'm guessing this doesn't show up in your own e-mail bag -- the currently fashionable synonym for "philosemite" in these circles is "Jew-fellator."
My consolation is that I get a roughly equal number of e-mails accusing me of antisemitism. This is in accordance with Derbyshire's First Law of Opinion Journalism, viz.:
*Derbyshire's First Law*: Anything -- anything whatsoever -- that a Gentile says about Jews or Israel will be taken as rabidly antisemitic by somebody, somewhere.
Posted at 07:10 AM
POPEYE THE SAILOR "BRAVE"? [Jonah Goldberg]
Here's a letter distributed by the superintendent of the US Naval Academy:
Dear Midshipmen, Faculty & Staff:
Posted at 06:47 AM
SIZE DOES MATTER [Jonah Goldberg]
Rick's mention of phrenology reminds me that I wish they brought it back. Oh not for any social Darwinistic or eugenic agenda on my part. It's merely that I have a shockingly enormous and lumpy gourd and in a world where such things mattered I would be the shaman-philosopher-king! So break out the calipers!
Posted at 06:39 AM
MEDIA PUFFS FOR HERSH [Tim Graham]
MRC provides the latest on the media celebration of Seymour Hersh...which was not the greeting he received when he sought to trash the sainted JFK in 1997....
Posted at 06:36 AM
KERRY, THE VICTIM. AMERICA, THE VICTIMIZED. [KJL]
How did Hillary Clinton get my e-mail address?!
From this morning's Kerry campaign fundraising e-mail:
A year ago everyone had written Democrats off. The media had taken for granted the reelection of George Bush. Isn't it fun to prove them wrong?The Kerry Spot has a warning about such claims.
Posted at 06:24 AM
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
SINCE NRO READERS KNOW EVERYTHING... [KJL]
...anyone out there the world's expert on Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Gianna?
Posted at 11:59 PM
FOUNDER'S CLUB [WFB]
National Review Online earns the tributes it gets. It's bright and sassy, fun and informative, and I tune it in from my bathtub at night.
Posted at 11:11 PM
SULLIVAN/GREELEY [Rick Brookhiser]
Does Andrew Sullivan also favor phrenological tests for train conductors?
Posted at 09:55 PM
RE FRITZ AND THE JEWS [Clifford D. May]
Somewhere on my mess of a desk, I have a statement from Sen. John Kerry demanding that President Bush condemn Saudi rulers for claiming that “Zionists” were responsible for recent acts of terrorism in their country. By that same standard, surely Sen. Kerry should speak out himself against Sen. Hollings -- a member of his party and one of his supporters -- for his outrageous and dangerous Judeophobic statements. Will he do that? Shouldn’t some disinterested, non-partisan reporter ask him to?
Posted at 09:26 PM
WHERE'S INEZ? [John J. Miller]
No response from yet from Democratic Senate candidate Inez Tenenbaum, regarding my item from this afternoon on Sen. Fritz Hollings accusing President Bush of invading Iraq in order to win Jewish votes. But I did receive a statement from Katon Dawson, head of the South Carolina GOP: "Senator Hollings was wrong to say these things. I would hope Mrs. Tenenbaum would agree with the rest of us and finally speak out against Senator Hollings’ sad and disappointing anti-Semitic statements."
Posted at 08:45 PM
ANDREW SULLIVAN = HORACE GREELEY? [Jonah Goldberg ]
To be honest, I haven't read through this whole thing, but blogger Christopher Cross has certainly invested a lot of time in making his case.
Posted at 08:20 PM
CHERMERINSKY, WHO IS NOT OF UCLA [Peter Robinson]
Sorry, folks. As readers have begun emailing to explain, Erwin Chemerinsky is not at UCLA but, if only for the time being, at USC. (Erwin will be leaving USC this spring, I am told, to begin teaching next fall at Duke.)
Posted at 07:06 PM
VOLOKH DEFENDS KERRY [Ramesh Ponnuru]
and pretty reasonably, too. You can see why Slate finds his manner of speech annoying, but the specific criticisms it's making of him don't quite work.
Posted at 07:05 PM
SCHEDULING NOTE [KJL]
Rich Lowry will be on Bill Bennett's "Morning in America," now in 78 cities (as opposed to Air America which runs in 13 cities)--and available at www.bennettmornings.com at 8:30 a.m., Eastern. Tomorrow, Thursday.
Posted at 06:59 PM
COMING SOON TO A TV NEAR YOU [Peter Robinson ]
Last week, as we were going back-and-forth over who does and doesn’t count as a POW under the Geneva Convention, I quoted John Yoo, the legal scholar, now teaching at Berkeley, who, as a member of the Justice Department for the first couple of years of this administration, developed the Bush policy in these matters. Several readers instantly wrote to me to point out that there are, after all, interpretations of the Geneva Convention other than those of Mr. Yoo.
Appearing on Uncommon Knowledge this coming weekend? John Yoo, who does a very good job of representing his own views, and Erwin Chemerinsky, the law professor law at UCLA, who does a very good job of attacking them. The subject of our discussion is the Supreme Court case on the administration’s treatment of detainees at Gitmo, but the right and wrong ways of interpreting the Geneva Convention get an intelligent--and thorough--airing.
To find out when the show will appear in your area, click here.
Posted at 06:24 PM
EXCOMMUNICATION FREQUENCY [Dave Kopel]
When was the last time an American Catholic Bishop actually excommunicated an elected official? On April 16, 1962, the Archbishop of New Orleans, Joseph F. Rummel, excommunicated three men who had persistently defied and interfered with the Archbishop's order to integrate the parochial schools of New Orleans. The three men were State Judge Leander H. Perez, State Senator E.W. Gravolet, and a racist citizen activst B.J. Gaillot.
Two days later, President John F. Kennedy was asked at a press conference, "Mr. President, would you care to comment on developments in New Orleans where the Archbishop excommunicated three people for hindering school desegregation?"
He replied: "No, the action of the Archbishop related to private acts and private individuals, which did not involve public acts or public policy, so that carrying out the spirit of the Constitution which provides a separation between church and state, I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on that."
Excommunication aims to make the excommunicant aware of the grave nature of his sin, and the peril to his soul. At least for Perez, the excommunication eventually worked. In 1968 he repented his fervent racism, which was extreme even compared to other segregationists. He died in 1969 and received a Catholic funeral.
Posted at 06:20 PM
SADR POPULARITY ON THE RISE? [KJL]
Posted at 05:38 PM
PROVE IT [KJL]
A reader writes: "I signed up for a subscription since I was beginning to feel guilty about all the free resources you provide, but I think you should provide the salaries of each National Review author to assure potential donors that they wouldn't be padding the wallets of already-fat cats? How do I know Jonah isn't asking for my hard-earned cash while scarfing down that $1,000 lobster and caviar omelette?"
ME: For a variety of reasons I'm sure you will understand, we won't be posting those, but I can tell you for certain that no one is getting rich off NRO. Rich content, sure. Rich Lowry, yes. But if you think NR/NRO staff does freelance work for their (our, my) health, you're mistaken. That's not a complaint. It's a fact. I might add, I have never had caviar I cross the street whenever I pass by the likes of Le Parker Meridien, for fear I might dirty their walkways with the wrong tax bracket.
I really am getting the impression folks do honestly think NRO is well-funded and we're doing this to be cute. Really, really wrong impression.
Posted at 05:18 PM
RE MY "HUH" [Jonah Goldberg ]
Peter - Sorry for the radio silence. I've been pondering your invitation. You know how much A) I'd like to do your show, B) nicer Palo Alto is than DC in June C) I'm looking for reasons to procrastinate. Can I get back to you soon?
As for my post on Drum's odd history, so far nobody -- including Drum himself -- has mustered a defense. I like Drum and I think he's a smart guy, but on more than one occasion I've been pretty shocked at the lapses in his historical analysis.
Posted at 04:52 PM
FNC ON "WEDDING PARTY" [KJL]
Posted at 04:52 PM
RE: FRITZ [KJL]
A friend notes:
What’s really amazing about the column is how poorly it reads. Is this the best Senate staffers can do? Does the paper have no copy editor to clean it up and make it read like a coherent piece of thinking? “But Cheney's man, Chalabi, made a mess of the de-Baathification of Iraq by dismissing Republican Guard leadership and Sunni leaders who soon joined with the insurgents.” Does he think his constituents know of Chalabi? What the Republican Guard was?Reminds me of that nutty Ron Paul diatribe about Michael Ledeen. Also, reminds me of Ted Kennedy picking up stuff from very odd sources (see Michael Rubin yesterday). Don't staffers get paid, in part, to protect their guys from mediocre work and screw-ups?
Posted at 04:47 PM
WEDDING PARTY? [KJL]
Maybe not, after all. Here's the CPA press release on it. I'm told CNN is already amending their press reports.
Coalition Forces raid suspected foreign fighter safe house near Syrian border
Posted at 04:44 PM
CYNICAL USE OF THE EAGLE [Jonathan H. Adler]
In this NYT story on the bald eagle's recovery, Michael Bean of Environmnetal Defense celebrates the bird's recovery as a tremendous "success" of the Endangered Species Act. That's funny. Mr. Bean's own organization, Environmental Defense, led the charge to ban DDT, and for years has taken credit for the pesticide's prohibition, and the ensuing recovery of several bird species, in direct mails campaigns. Who's right? In this case, the direct mail is more accurate than Mr. Bean's convenient, and desperate, effort to credit the ESA. As I've noted before, the ESA has been a terrible failure, and it does not deserve credit for the eagle's rebound.
Posted at 04:30 PM
EAGLE RECOVERY [Jonathan H. Adler]
It is true that bald eagle populations have recovered in recent years. One year during the Clinton Administration, then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt made a big July 4 announcement about the eagle's recovery. What is important to recognize is that the primary federal species protection law -- the Endangered Species Act -- has had little, if anything, to do with the eagle's recovery. The largest factors in the eagle's rebound are 1) the prohibition on shooting bald eagles under legislation specifically protecting eagles, and 2) the domestic ban on the pesticide DDT. Neither measure had anything to do with the ESA. So be happy that the bald eagle is doing better, but don't believe environmental activists who try and claim the ESA deserves the credit.
Posted at 04:19 PM
RE: KERRY TIMES [KJL]
I'm proud of that one! As Jay Nordlinger noted not too long ago in NRODT, I am in good company.
Posted at 04:09 PM
DEMOCRACY AT WORK [Victor Davis Hanson]
National Review Online is free; its writers are diverse and are under no obligation to follow any particular party line--and its opinion journalism is very widely read. A great many of the ideas that are expressed on its pages end up as part of our current national debate, and readers can trace the evolution of such arguments--as they are discussed, adapted, modified, or refuted--from their first appearance at NRO. In short, the electronic magazine, through its easy accessibility and high standards, is radically democratic in the best sense — providing almost instantaneous quality reading to millions the world over. Its reason to be is not profit, but the widest dissemination of provocative, hard-hitting, and intellectually responsible ideas into the arena of public opinion. Each morning I find in NRO a welcome sanity in an often-insane world.
Posted at 04:08 PM
JONAH'S "HUH" OF YESTERDAY [Peter Robinson ]
A nice piece of deconstruction yesterday, Jonah. And here's proof that the Drum argument is nutso: Where Reagan could apply military pressure, he did, supplying arms to the Contras and mujaheddin and invading Grenda. (Grenada may have been a flyspeck, but it was occupied by some 600 Cuban troops.)
Now, Jonah, about my invitation for you to appear on Uncommon Knowledge next month: I am, ahem, still waiting for a reply.
Posted at 04:03 PM
RE: C'MON GUYS [KJL]
Just for the record: Even I ponied up $100. This great NRO thing is so much bigger than all of us...but in need of support.
Posted at 03:58 PM
THAT BAYONET CHARGE [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader who might be too quick to lump the Brits with the Europeans:
Posted at 03:53 PM
NONSENSE [Jonah Goldberg]
Fritz Hollings is defending himself saying that he can provide quotes from Jews in America and Israel to support his position. I'm sure he can to some extent. But so what? His charge isn't that Jews support democracy in the Middle East to secure Israel's security (and because they support democracy). His charge is that Bush went to war to placate those Jews. The quotes he needs to prove his point aren't from Jews in Tel Aviv, they're from White House officials in Washington.
I can provide plenty of "quotes" from oil executives saying that securing the flow of oil is vital to American security. Does that prove it was a "war for oil"? Hell, give me time and I can get you quotes from people saying we went to war in Iraq because their cats won't stop staring at them in the shower, that doesn't prove Bush went to war for feline prurience.
Posted at 03:37 PM
STAND FAST HOWARD [Jonah Goldberg ]
Aussie Prime Minister John Howard:
"If we lose heart, if we abandon our friends, if we choose to give the wrong signal to the terrorists, that will not only make the world a less safe place but also damage the reputation of this country around the world."
"The reality is that international terrorism has invested an enormous amount in breaking the will of the coalition. The terrorists know that if democracy is installed in Iraq they have lost. Iraq is the key to creating new hope for the people of the Middle East."
Posted at 03:28 PM
THE TASTE OF COLD STEEL [ Jonah Goldberg ]
OUTNUMBERED British soldiers killed 35 Iraqi attackers in the Army’s first bayonet charge since the Falklands War 22 years ago.
Posted at 03:21 PM
RUSSERT CONT'D [Jonah Goldberg ]
Out of curiosity, I checked to see if Romenesko bothered to link to my column about Russert. Of course not. [Insert usual complaints about his bias here]. But I did find that among the numerous items on the Russert flap, Paul Fahri of the Washington Post agrees that Russert was being ridiculous: "Russert's rant was ridiculous (I hold Russert to a much higher standard than Limbaugh, Hannity or Matthews, who are all varying flavors of ridiculous). The interview ran long--it was as simple as that--and the idiot State Dept. flack overstepped her authority. Simple as that... "
Posted at 03:15 PM
C'MON GUYS [Jonah Goldberg]
I know Kathryn hates asking you guys for money. We all do. But we have to do it because A) we need the money and B) the suits will cancel Christmas if we don't raise it. Help her/us out.
Posted at 03:00 PM
MILITARY APPRECIATION [KJL]
Shea Stadium is having a military appreciation day on May 23. They're asking game-goers to bring items for a Mets care package going out to a battalion of Marines. I'm a Yankees-since-the-womb girl, but it's worth linking to still! Details here and here.
Posted at 02:26 PM
101: THE FOUR WAYS [KJL]
I said there were four ways and then only provided three to get your attention, of course. The fourth is to snail-mail a donation. For the address, scroll down. I have a bottle of cheap wine sitting here ready to break open when that $50,000 one gets delivered.
Posted at 02:16 PM
THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE [KJL]
Bush wins the College, loses popular again? That's a prediction. Jim Geraghty has the details over in The Kerry Spot (the "24/7" blog on the right). That would be very unfortunate, and present a real challenge to the E.C. & us.
Posted at 02:15 PM
101: YOU HAVE OPTIONS [KJL]
Just a quick primer, and I will shut up for awhile about this: the NRO fund drive is going on right now. There are four ways to participate. (And we're not PBS though we may sound like it: we need you to participate. Not even the spenders in D.C. will pick up this tab.) 1. Donate to NRO. There is a party at Kate O’Beirne’s being offered for the one person who contributes $50k, our goal. For everyone else, our sincerest gratitude and our work on a bigger and better NRO. You can donate here. 2. Subscribe to NR Digital. You get all the content in the paper version of National Review magazine, without the paper (though you can print it as many times as your heart desires, or printer allows). NR Digital is available quicker than the paper mag--no waiting for the delivery man. And, it’s cheaper. Get more info and subscribe here. 3. Subscribe to National Review on Dead Tree on actual dead tree. You get the paper magazine delivered to your mailbox and you get a Digital subscription, so you can still check out the latest issue as early as it is available, online. You can sign up to receive the paper editon of the paper magazine here.
Not convinced? Browse on over to the homepage and listen to Derb, Rush, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin (they've recorded fun audio messages for NRO) and read Mark Steyn and your fellow readers make the case for supporting National Review Online.
Posted at 02:06 PM
CHERRY PICKING JEWS [Jonah Goldberg]
Yes, a great name for a band. But that's also what Hollings does in his column. He writes: "Led by Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Charles Krauthammer, for years there has been a domino school of thought that the way to guarantee Israel's security is to spread democracy in the area."
Funny how the only names are Jewish. What? Jeanne Kirkpatrick doesn't count? Jack Kemp? Bill Bennett?
Posted at 01:57 PM
CHERRY PICKING JEWS [Jonah Goldberg]
Yes, a great name for a band. But that's also what Hollings does in his column. He writes: "Led by Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Charles Krauthammer, for years there has been a domino school of thought that the way to guarantee Israel's security is to spread democracy in the area."
Funny how the only names are Jewish. What? Jeanne Kirkpatrick doesn't count? Jack Kemp? Bill Bennett? I wonder why.
Posted at 01:57 PM
THE KERRY TIMES [John J. Miller]
K Lo: The NYT has been running those ads for Kerry for weeks. You must not read the NYT regularly. Shame! Shame! Shame!
Posted at 01:54 PM
FRITZ AND THE JEWS [John J. Miller]
If Pat Buchanan had authored this column by Democratic Sen. Fritz Hollings, many people would file it under "further evidence of Buchanan's anti-Semitism." Hollings basically says that President Bush went to war in Iraq to win Jewish votes. Here's the key allegation: "He came to office imbued with one thought -- re-election. Bush felt tax cuts would hold his crowd together and spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jewish vote from the Democrats." This is just stupid. Bush offered many justifications for war with Iraq. Perhaps some of them were and are debatable. But reducing the entire lot to a desire to "take the Jewish vote from the Democrats" is unbelievable and insulting. Quick question: Will Inez Tenenbaum, the Democratic candidate to replace Hollings as the next senator from South Carolina, now condemn these remarks--or does she agree with them? I'll contact her press secretary and report back.
Posted at 01:47 PM
GOOD FOR BILL COSBY [Jonah Goldberg ]
He's no conservative, but he had some choice words at the big Brown v. Board of Ed bash Monday night, according to the Post:
Bill Cosby was anything but politically correct in his remarks Monday night at a Constitution Hall bash commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. To astonishment, laughter and applause, Cosby mocked everything from urban fashion to black spending and speaking habits.
Posted at 01:44 PM
OH NO [KJL]
We reportedly fired on an Iraqi wedding party after celebratory gunfire was mistaken for enemy fire. Sounds like a tragic, fatal accident.
Posted at 01:38 PM
I just clicked on the New York Times homepage and got, while I was scrolling the news, a large paid-for Kerry ad in the midst of their article offerings. Making an honest woman of the Gray Lady, I guess.
Posted at 01:29 PM
ME & "THE ODD COUPLE" [Jonah Goldberg]
I know I talk about Star Trek a lot, but I can't think of a show that contributed more to the vernacular of my later years in high school than The Odd Couple. Talk about Star Trek back then and you'd invite the same sort of ridicule you get around here. But Odd Couple was huge among most of the guys. I don't know why most girls didn't appreciate it. Sure, smaller subsets of us were huge "Young Ones" enthusiasts, for example. But almost everyone knew at least a little "Odd Couple."
All the guys I'm still friends with from high school can do quote The Odd Couple all of the time. The last time I saw one buddy of mine he even threatened to twist my little rigoletto. Bernaise Barbara, a midget named Harry, the frog wounded by the typewriter, "I shoulda said throat!"...good times, good times.
Posted at 01:26 PM
SNAIL MAIL [KJL]
This is the official postal coordinates if you want to send a check (made out to "National Review"):
Kathryn Jean Lopez National Review
215 Lexington Avenue
NY NY 10016
Posted at 01:18 PM
I FORGOT TO ASK [KJL]
what Jonah's favorite episode of The Odd Couple is.
Posted at 01:12 PM
HAPPENS ALL THE TIME [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Hi Jonah. Nice column today, I actually watched this as it was happening on sunday and couldn't figure out for the life of me why Russert's undies were in such a bunch.
Posted at 01:04 PM
WHAT CONSERVATIVES HATH WROUGHT [Jonah Goldberg ]
Matt Yglesias chimes in on that odd op-ed from yesterday in the Times. He agrees that it's -- again -- odd to say the GOP today is more conservative than Goldwater, though he comes from a more hostile perspective. He goes on to suggest, not entirely outlandishly, that the allegedly "more conservative" conservative movement hasn't accomplished much.
I don't want to take the bait on trying to list everything conservatives have or haven't done. A few things come immediately to mind. First of all, so-called liberals were increasingly useless in the second-half of the Cold War. Second, conservative free-market arguments brought about a wave of deregulation which created immense material prosperity and improved health (see David Frum's book on the 1970s). Third, James Q Wilson's "broken windows" theory helped reverse America's seemingly permanent descent into criminal violence more than any liberal idea in the last half-century. I can think of plenty of other examples, of course. But you get the point.
And one last thing. Whenever I point out that America's environment has gotten so much better or that the "Population Bomb" was a dud, environmentalist liberals always say these benefits were the result of activists raising the alarms and causing changes in public policy. It's a fair argument as far as it goes, but it hardly justifies the lies of the environmentalists. Nonetheless, I think it's fair to remind folks of how unbelievably bad the ideas of the left in the 1960s and 1970s were. From the National Welfare Rights Organization insisting that welfare payments constituted reparations for slavery (and should therefore be increased and expanded) to the Nuclear Freeze movement and so on. I wish conservatives had accomplished more, but the one accomplishment I'm very grateful for is that they stopped the left from translating so many of its ideas into policy.
Posted at 12:56 PM
SHUTTLES, HUBBLE & POLICY DISCONNECT [KJL]
Rand Simberg has a new piece up.
Posted at 12:52 PM
"IF POWER MADE ONE EVIL, GOD WOULD BE THE DEVIL" [KJL]
Anyone donating $600 or more between now and 3pm EST gets a Jonah Goldberg t-shirt with those words, his image, and his hand-signed John Hancock. $600 for a t-shirt you say? Jonah has a mental-health issue involving ink in general, ink and cotton worse--so he really can only do these in padded rooms, required a lot of prep work. Long story short, he doesn't sign a lot of t-shirts (or, frankly, anything). So, this is a genuine collector's item. Do consider. The signed collector's item shirt, of course, is only a small token of our gratitude for your investment in National Review Online's future. Thank you.
Posted at 12:35 PM
SEAN HANNITY [KJL]
has recorded a message for you. Listen here.
Posted at 11:57 AM
DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY [Jonah Goldberg]
I'm sorry if I sounded more glum than I intended in my post about anti-Semitism. I'm getting all sorts of nice buck-up emails from folks. While they're appreciated, they're not necessary. Sure, sometimes the anti-Semitic stuff is a bummer, but generally it's really quite easy to ignore and I know it represents a tiny minority of folks. Seriously, I do know this Haliburton launched Zion Eye IV a few years ago. It's a very powerful satellite which tracks anti-Semites throught their fillings. I know where all of them live thanks to my regular ZOG newsletter.
Posted at 11:52 AM
"WAR ON TERROR" FOLLIES [Andy McCarthy]
There is as we speak an Islamic government-sponsored, genocidal terrorist atrocity ongoing in the Darfur region -- even the UN High Commission on Human Rights was forced to acknowledge that at the end of last month. See New York Times report of 4/22/04. As late as yesterday, a high ranking State Department official acknowledged that Sudan (which was the home base of al Qaeda in the early to mid-1990's) continues even today to harbor Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both listed by the U.S. as designated terrorist organizations. The Bush Doctrine states that those who harbor terrorists are equally as guilty as terrorists. So, putting all these facts together, what did the State Department do yesterday? Secretary Powell removed Sudan from the list of countries considered uncooperative in the war on terrorism. Is it any wonder that we have the problems we have? Story from The Guardian is here.
Posted at 11:32 AM
GOD & MAN AT NRO [William F. Buckley Jr.]
National Review Online earns the tributes it gets. It's bright and sassy, fun, and informative, and I tune it in from my bathtub at night.
Posted at 11:22 AM
YOUR OUTRAGE OF THE MORNING [Michael Graham]
...comes courtesy of the Washington Post editorial staff, where Tom Toles' cartoon portrays Iraq as an Abu Ghraib prisoner in a dog collar. Holding the leash is President Bush.
If Tom Toles is saying that President Bush is responsible for the bad behavior of the prison guards, his cartoon is merely ridiculous and partisan.
But if, as it appears, Toles is saying that the people of Iraq are victims of abuse as a people at the hands of President Bush, then Toles' cartoon is disgusting and outrageous.
The idea that Iraq today is suffering beneath America's liberation and rebuilding effort is nonsensical unless you believe that, if Saddam were back in power, life in Iraq would be better. I'm not even going to waste keystokes debunking such an irrational belief.
Tell me how to look at this statement from the Washington Post as anything other than "George W. Bush is worse for Iraq than Saddam was." How can it mean anything else?
Posted at 11:17 AM
MEL=SON OF SAM? [Tim Graham]
It may be a little dated to trash Mel Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ," but writer Mary Gordon goes all out in the June edition of The American Prospect, complaining that all the usually reliable liberal Catholics have gone soft on Mel. The wildest critique arrived over outspoken liberal Richard McBrien, whose pre-Passion column was way too wimpy for Gordon when he tried to focus on Gibson's views of Protestant salvation instead of anti-Semitism:
"In reading this, I was reminded of the 'Son of Sam' case, in which the eponymous Sam, owner of the dog that the killer David Berkowitz thought was telling him to kill women, told a journalist that what most upset him was not the dead women but that Berkowitz was sending get-well cards to friends of Sam's who weren't sick."
Posted at 11:15 AM
VITAL FRUM [KJL]
Must, must read him today (and everyday).
Posted at 11:08 AM
DID SOMEONE SAY SARIN? [KJL]
William Safire's questioning the coverage of the Sarin shell today.
Posted at 11:04 AM
HEARING ATMOSPHERE [Andy McCarthy]
It is once again time to broach the delicate subject of whether it is really helpful for the 9/11 Commission to have public hearings at all. The Giuliani testimony was interrupted twice by cat-calling -- no doubt heartfelt but also rude and distorting -- from victims' families. ("Three thousand people murdered is not leadership" was the harangue at Rudy -- whose exemplary leadership cannot objectively be disputed -- as he left the auditorium.)
The public hearings are being broadcast to the entire nation, but they do not take place in front of an audience representative of the nation. Instead, they take place largely in front of a group of loved ones of those who were murdered. Obviously, if it were one of our husbands, wives, children, parents, etc., who were killed on 9/11, chances are we would never be satisfied with the performance of the involved public officials, no matter how well and heroic their performance was -- and no matter that it was in many instances performed at great risk to their own lives. But the hearings are a television event, and the crowd is as much a part of it as the witnesses and the commissioners -- who would not be human if their performances at the hearings were not affected by what they have to know will be the reaction in the room to the things they say. (And as we know, some of the Commissioners and witnesses have at times succumbed to the temptation to pander.)
It can't seriously be argued that the real important work of the Commission is taking place in the public hearing. The truly important work is being done by the Commission staff in hours upon hours of private interviews -- undergone not only by all the people who testify publicly, but the many, many more witnesses who have been interviewed and who have provided tangible documents and other evidence. What goes on in public -- which is how the country forms its general impression of the Commission -- is really not representative of the Commission's total product. Analogously, the reactions of the audience at those public hearings are really not representative of how the general, objective, interested public would take the same information. It is as if the Super Bowl were being played in front a crowd of the players' families instead of regular football fans -- the game would look and feel much different.
Posted at 11:02 AM
"MOST INFLUENTIAL" [Peter Kirsanow]
NRO is the most influential website in America. I'm constantly amazed at how many of the nation's leaders and decision makers read NRO's commentary daily. K-Lo is the conductor of the finest orchestra of thinkers and writers in all of blogdom. They provide intelligent analysis and reporting unseen anywhere else. And the Corner — raucous, irreverent, erudite — is an Algonquin Roundtable of rocket scientists with a sense of humor.
Posted at 10:54 AM
ANOTHER CLAUDIA ROSETT MUST-READ [KJL]
Posted at 10:46 AM
SNAKEHEADS, TOO [KJL]
Man, I'm staying far away from D.C. this summer. Suddenly our DC correspondents are looking forward to the Democratic convention.
Posted at 10:40 AM
OH NO THE JEWS! [Jonah Goldberg]
Michael Rubin's essay on NRO really is worth reading. I don't read that much on the "Jews are neocons, neocons are Zionists, Zionists killed my dog" hysteria these days, mostly because it's so depressing and because it's rare anything new gets said. But Rubin's is a very nice recap of the state of play.
I can certainly confirm that anti-Semitic email is way, way up. Of course, it doesn't help that I have the most Jewish-sounding name this side of Sasha Finkletsein.
But what I find so fascinating about most of it is the incredible amount of literary imagination these folks bring to it without benefit of any facts. They "know" that I am a frequent visitor to Israel (I've never been there), that I'm an immigrant or of recent American vintage (Mom's side -- not Jewish -- comes from Mayflowerish stock, Dad's side's been here for more than a century), that I speak regularly with the White House, the Pentagon or Likud officials to get my "marching orders" (please), that Israel is all I think about etc. Some also work on the assumption that I must be a hypocrite because, well, hypocrites are bad and usually Jewish. Therefore they'll assume I took different positions when Israel's (sweaty palmed) interests weren't at stake.
But what's perhaps most interesting is how many of them -- though certainly not a majority -- believe they are being calm and rational and not at all insulting. They "know" the truth and are therefore engaging in a reasonable exchange of ideas with me. They will always and everywhere speak of "the Jews" collectively as if they are all one thing or another and that I am bound by the gravitational force of however they define my tribe. They know I can't help it, I'm one of "the Jews" after all, and therefore they just want to talk about it, about how I'm deliberately destroying America and Western Civilization and all that --- but, honestly, no offense intended!
The other day I got an email from someone who concluded by saying something like "I liked the Jews better when they were all Communists" -- i.e. instead of war mongering, bagel-snarfing neocons.
Breaking a general policy, I wrote him back to say "I liked a**holes better when they kept their opinions to themselves."
Posted at 10:32 AM
NO NEW DOMESTIC INTEL AGENCY [Andy McCarthy]
Giuliani, following logically on his earlier comments, specifically opined that separating the law enforcement and intelligence gathering functions of the FBI by creating a new domestic intelligence agency was not a good idea. The chance of getting the maximum amount of good intel is a combination of the law enforcement and intel functions with all the walls and legal information sharing barriers down -- as they have been since passage of the Patriot Act. A domestic intel agency would be "isolated" and probably less effective than the FBI was when burdened by obstructions to information sharing. Far more important, Rudy reiterated, was increasing the information flow between the federal and local law enforcement agencies.
Posted at 10:29 AM
THE FIRST ABU GHRAIB SENTENCE [KJL]
Posted at 09:53 AM
RUDY CUTS TO THE CHASE [Andy McCarthy]
Giuliani was asked whether he thought American intelligence agencies needed to be reformed or restructured -- something the Commission has seemed itchy to recommend. His prescriptions were both more modest and more substantial (and meaningful):
1) Need more Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs), combining FBI and local PDs. JTTF was created in NYC in the Weather Underground days of the late 1970’s. In JTTF cases, federal agents and police officers are partners; they investigate the same cases together, which opens communication flow between the agencies. It demonstrates to the FBI in a concrete way the multiplier effect of local law enforcement. (There are about 11,000 FBI agents in the entire U.S.; there are about 33,000 officers in the NYPD in NYC alone). Rudy pointed out that a terrorist attack on the NYC subways was foiled during his time as mayor because an ordinary citizen saw something suspicious and went in and reported it to a local police precinct. Because there was an open line of communication – the JTTF – the local cop referred the complaint to the JTTF, which used its intelligence and resources to mobilize and thwart the plot.
2) We need more human intelligence. We get mounds and mounds of information, and it all says bad people are threatening us. You need an interpreter to figure out what’s urgent. You need operatives to infiltrate these groups. That’s how we dismantle organized crime families and drug organizations. Over the last several decades – no particular administration is responsible for this – we seem to have fallen in love with our high technology and gotten away from the tough, dirty work of human intelligence. But it’s the human intelligence that we need the most.
Posted at 09:51 AM
9/11 HEARINGS, TODAY [Andy McCarthy]
Rudy is spellbinding. Looking the Commission in the eye, no notes, explaining split-second decisions made under life-and-death circumstances, while the Towers were in flames, people were leaping from the 103rd floor, and the buildings began to collapse on top of the people making the decisions.
Posted at 09:05 AM
THE 9/11 HEARINGS [Andy McCarthy]
A friend sent me this last night: "Not helpful was today's hearings. The questions usually began with some rheorical grandstanding and then dissolved into broad assertions that missed most of what happened. Listening to Kerrey for instance, you'd think that the NYPD would have been unaware of Al Qaeda without warnings from the White House."
NB: If this is right, it suggests that some Commissioners (can you, ahem, possibly guess which ones?) are planning to skew their report in favor of Richard Clarke's nonsense about how, when he led the Clinton Admin to "battle stations" in 2000, the purportedly dire (but utterly uninformative and largely unknown) terrorism alerts they put out actually led to things like Ahmed Ressam's arrest in Vancouver just before the Millennium -- which, remarkably, Clarke takes credit for in his book, and Commissioners like Jamie Gorelick have credited Clinton with during the brethren-and-sister's not-at-all-politicized public hearings.
In fact, recall from the media reporting that Ressam (with his trunk full of explosives and map of LA Int'l Airport) was stopped at the border by an alert Customs agent who suspected he might be a drug smuggler, not a terrorist. The Customs agent had never heard about any alerts from the White House. As people involved would tell you if asked, the information flow tends to go FROM the field TO Washington. Only in the self-absorption of Beltway-world is it possible to delude oneself into thinking the reverse could be true. Down here on Planet Earth, if it went the other way around, there would be a lot more 9/11s.
Posted at 08:23 AM
EAGLE COMEBACK [John J. Miller]
Bald eagles have made such a comeback in recent years that there's a good chance they'll be taken off the endangered species list by the end of the year, reports the New York Times. Also of note: Only two states lack a nesting pair of the birds. One of them is Rhode Island, which is so small it's easy to overlook if you're an eagle. The other is Howard Dean's home state. I can't help but think the eagles are trying to make a political statement. Also, the eagle's success is part of a long-term trend, so the Bush administration doesn't deserve any special praise for the good news. But imagine if the reverse were true, and eagles were suddenly placed on the endangered list after a steady decline. The story would be on front pages everywhere and leading the TV news as another example of Republican hostility to conservation.
Posted at 06:27 AM
JUDICIAL NOMINATION DEAL [Jonathan H. Adler]
The Washington Post reports on the deal Byron York broke yesterday here between the White House and Senate Democrats over judicial nominations. President Bush agreed not to make any more recess appointments to the federal bench between now and the end of his term in return for Senate Democrats' agreement to allow approximately 25 largely non-controversial judicial nominations to go through. Of note, none of the high profile appellate nominees (Owen, Brown, Hynes, Myers, Kuhl, etc.) are included on the list of nominees to be approved, so the deal doesn't end the judicial filibusters. Some Senate Republicans are trying to spin this as a victory -- after all, more judges will get confirmed -- but on the principle of whether judges can or should be filibustered over ideology, it seems like a defeat.
Posted at 05:48 AM
GOOD NEWS FROM IRAQ [KJL]
A good blogger roundup
Posted at 05:44 AM
I MAY HAVE TO RETIRE SOON... [KJL]
...I confess to having found this e-mail mildly interesting:
The problem Kathryn is that every reference to reporters and/or mass media in later versions of Star Trek directly conflict with multiple references in TOS and TNG which specifically mention the death of mass media, specifically television, in the 21st century.
Posted at 05:41 AM
SEND ME YOUR CHECKS! [KJL]
A number of readers have asked for a snail-mail address for NRO, as an alternative to PayPal (it's generally good for bribes, too). Please send your fund-drive checks to (made out to "National Review"): Kathryn Jean Lopez
215 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Posted at 05:33 AM
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
RE: REMEMBER JOE-MENTUM [Jonah Goldberg]
Absolutely. If you're name is Phil, I will be Philled With Outrage. Should your name be Constantine, I will be Constantinely upset by liberal media bias. If you're name Sally I will...oh you get the point. Should the donation be sufficiently generous, I'll work in the last name too.
Posted at 08:36 PM
FITZGERALD [Rick Brookhiser]
"...the remark is incredible snobbish -- about what you'd expect from Fitzgerald."
What I expect from Fitzgerald--because he so often delivers it--is honesty, social and psychological insight, and great prose. Ramesh's correspondent was reviewing Fitzgerald's binges, not his books.
Posted at 07:22 PM
REMEMBER JOE-MENTUM? [KJL]
...For $50,000, in addition to the party, I'm pretty sure Jonah would consider making use of your name in every post he posts to The Corner for one day.... I wouldn't nag so much if I didn't think you were out there. I know you are.
Posted at 07:01 PM
RE: DRUM'S POST [Jonah Goldberg]
Fair point from a reader:
Posted at 06:36 PM
HUH? [Jonah Goldberg ]
After linking to, and quoting from, Wesley Clark's cover story in the Washington Monthly, Kevin Drum writes:
Clark's point is a simple one: Neither Reagan nor any of the seven Cold War presidents before him ever attacked either the Soviet Union or one of its satellites directly. This wasn't because of insufficient dedication to anticommunism, but because it wouldn't have worked. In the end, they knew that democracy couldn't come at the point of a gun; it had to come from within, from the citizens of the countries themselves.
But even before the Soviets got the bomb, the reason for not invading -- i.e. liberating -- Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, the Baltics, Eastern Germany, etc. wasn't that "democracy couldn't come at the point of a gun." It was because the frickin' Red Army was already set up in those places and the American Army -- and public -- was too weary to fight another war which had nothing to do with our original war aims.
While it's fun to hear liberals embrace the morally sterile realism of detente, it's also worth pointing out that while we didn't attack the Soviet Union directly, we did fight a number of deadly proxy wars with the Soviets in order to contain them. We would have -- and should have -- done a lot more if nuclear annihilation weren't a risk (National Review did call for "rollback, not containment"). Meanwhile, the threshhold for toppling Saddam was lower than the threshhold for toppling Stalin precisely because we could topple Saddam at a lower cost to ourselves -- in much the same way that if we could liberate North Korea easily, I would say we should do that too.
Drum's -- and I presume Clark's (though I haven't read his article) -- Iraq analogy is absurd in one basic sense. He is comparing the captive nations to a hodgepodge of Iraq-like states when they were mostly, if not all, much more like mini-Kuwaits. According to Drum's analysis we should have left Saddam in power in Kuwait and waited for liberation and democracy to "come from within." (By the way, How does Drum's standard square with toppling Milosevic?)
The victims of Yalta did not want to live under the Soviet yoke and its puppet governments and Drum's insinuation that they did is somewhere between nonsense and highly partisan revisionism. The Ukranians often greeted the invading Nazi soldiers as liberators for Pete's sake.
I could go on, but maybe I'm missing something.
Posted at 06:14 PM
MORE FITZGERALD [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Four readers' theories:
1) "According to Tom Burnham and The Dictionary of Misinformation, Fitzgerald spoke as a playwright. The second act of a play is where plot and character development takes place, spinning subplots and character reveals to give a play and its characters emotional weight and depth. The third act is meant to tie all of this together into a meaningful resolution. What Fitzgerald meant wasn't that Americans don't get second chances; he meant that Americans have no depth or development and tend to be rather two-dimensional, or worse. In fact, the remark is incredible snobbish -- about what you'd expect from Fitzgerald."
2) "I think it is often taken to mean there are no second chances, but I think that is wrong. What is a second act? In a two act play, the first act is all a building up and the second act is all dénouement. I tend to think he meant that in America, there is always opportunity and new beginnings, and none of the fatalistic inevitable failure of European thinking."
3) "I've never assumed that it meant that there no second chances -- I've seen
4) "Don't plays typically have three acts? I always thought that, given that, Fitzgerald was saying that American lives happen, comparatively, really fast."
Posted at 05:34 PM
7 IRAQI MEN GET HANDS IN TEXAS [KJL]
Saddam had cut off their right hands.
Posted at 05:31 PM
MARKETS & MORALS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I'll be on a panel in Washington, D.C., tomorrow, discussing a book on the topic by Rebecca Blank and William McGurn. It's at the Mayflower hotel from 2 to 4 p.m.
Posted at 05:04 PM
MORE ON THE BERG-KILLER ARRESTS [KJL]
On second look, that CPA comment is more of a non-denial. It is pointed out to me that Kimmitt in Baghdad said, "We have no information on the coalition that any arrests were made today" was his reply to a question that did not include the word "today." A wire service reported, apparently with a good Iraqi source, that the arrests were made, but not specifying today. In other words, stay tuned.
Posted at 04:03 PM
A SLIGHT SLIGHT—AND AN INVITATION FOR JONAH [ Peter Robinson]
I'll be shooting an episode of Uncommon Knowledge early next month with John Micklethwait, one of the co-authors of the op-ed in this morning's New York Times that has K-Lo and Jonah feeling so miffed, as also of the new book, The Right Nation, on which the op-ed is based. Everyone will be mightily relieved to learn that even if piece in the newspaper today failed to mention WFB and NR, the book itself mentions both, and plenty: WFB appears ten times, NR some 16. From the introduction: "Goldwater's rise coincided with a growing intellectual ferment on the Right, a ferment that transformed the 'know-nothing' wing of the party into the know-it-all-wing--of autodidacts poring over Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley's National Review."
Jonah, in your posting below, you wrote, "If I had more time I'd be interested in seeing the book [The Right Nation]-- there was a time when I reviewed books about conservatives more regularly, sigh." I'll be shooting the show with John Micklethwait (a friend of mine, I should reveal) out here in California on June 8. Care to join us? Say yes and you'll be able to read the book on the flight out, no prob.
Posted at 03:21 PM
I HATE TO BE A BROKEN RECORD... [KJL]
...but don't forget there is an NRO party at Kate's (with NRO writers) for he who donates $50,000 to NRO.
Posted at 03:14 PM
RE: HOMOSEXUALITY & GENETICS [John Derbyshire]
A couple of reader follow-ups.
Reader A: "Derb---The purported 'scientist' who harangued you about your lack of science knowledge while denigrating everyone at NRO blew his credibility from the outset. If malaria was a tropical disease, what explains the epidemic of malaria in northern Russian in the 20th century (not an isolated case, either - malaria was pervasive in North America until eradicated in the 20th century)? Anyone that would make such an obvious misclassification should not be trusted in anything else he might state."
Reader B (who is a professor of biology): "Dear Mr. Derbyshire---I don't know which 'expert' was pontificating to you regarding the genetics of homosexuality---care to tell me who it was?---but I will say that he or she was vastly overstating things, and is far too sure of her or himself. I won't even mention the completely unnecessary and clearly partisan attacks.
... The subject of genetics and homosexuality is complex. The twin study of 20% your correspondent quoted is not correct from anything I have read.
... Rather than debate it, I found you a pretty even handed website to peruse: ... I loved it when your correspondent started discussing heterozygote advantage and population genetics...since the latter field was INVENTED by your mathematical friend Hardy in the early part of the 20th Century. Algebra, indeed!
"If you want to know more about heterozygote advantage and its effect on gene frequencies, here is a place to start. In any event, homosexuality looks like a mix of genes and the environment. But there was no cause, at all, for the person writing to you to be so rude."
Ah, it goes with the job, Prof. I did, however, get an e-mail from the expert concerned, complaining because I had omitted his name from my Corner posting! (His actual words: "So why did you cut my name? Hell, I want to be at the head of the p***ing line.") So I guess it's OK to say it was Gregory Cochran.
Posted at 03:00 PM
BERG'S KILLERS [KJL]
There are number of news stories in sites around the world on those four purported arrests, but the CPA denied knowledge a few hours ago, and I have heard nothing definitive since. Just an update.
Posted at 02:55 PM
CELEBRATION [Tim Graham]
If those big pictures and celebratory headlines on the front of the Washington Post (and ditto for its Style section, too) on the gay utopia in Massachusetts aren't enough for you in establishing a bias, check out the MRC take on morning and evening news coverage here.
Posted at 02:52 PM
VERY INTERESTING NEWS STORY [John Derbyshire]
Posted at 02:51 PM
JUDGE NEWS [Byron York]
The Bush White House has promised not to make any more judicial recess appointments for the duration of the president's term. White House chief of staff Andrew Card met with Senate leaders this morning in an effort to break the impasse in which Democrats have blocked more than 30 of the president's judicial nominees (including those who are currently the target of Democratic filibusters). In return for Card's promise that the president would not use his recess appointment power for judicial nominations, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle promised to let 25 judicial nominees -- all of them uncontroversial -- move through the Senate. That number includes 20 District Court nominees and five appeals court nominees, who will receive Senate action before the end of June.
The judicial nominees have been caught in a Democratic blockade since March, when the President made a recess appointment of filibustered appeals-court nominee William Pryor. Before that, the president had recess-appointed Charles Pickering, another nominee who had been filibustered by Democrats. After the Pryor appointment, Democrats pledged to stop all judicial appointments until the president promised to give up his power to make recess appointments to the judiciary, which is what, in limited form, the White House did today.
Posted at 02:48 PM
RESPECT [John Derbyshire]
"Derbyshire's hilarious and eventually fatal attempt at treehouse construction"? Feu! This is the tree house to end all tree houses, the Taj Mahal of tree houses. Daniel Liebeskind keep calling to ask about points of technique. Far from being "hilarious and eventually fatal," my tree house is serious and life-enhancing. Strike that reader from the subscription lists, Kathryn!
A column in which every third word is "buggery"? Let me work on that.
(I *did* once do a book review for NRODT in which I used the words "buggery" and "bastardy" BOTH IN THE SAME SENTENCE. When I proudly pointed this out to Jay Nordlinger, he said: "Derb, that's just like anyone else using 'and' and 'the' in the same sentence...")
Posted at 02:35 PM
STANDING ATHWART FUNDRAISING PLOYS... [KJL]
Another reader: "If VDH stops writing about Athens, Sparta et al, no longer will I never donate to NRO again, I will cancel my subscription to NRODT."
Posted at 02:07 PM
RE: ODD OP-ED [Jonah Goldberg]
A reader writes:
Didn't disagree with anything in it, huh? How about "Fast forward to today. A Republican Party that is more conservative than Mr. Goldwater could have imagined controls the White House, Congress, many governors' mansions and a majority of seats in state legislatures." Now I can't say for sure, but I bet ol' Barry could have imagined a Republican Party that is more conservative than the Medicare-enlarging, No-child-left-behind-ing, campaign-finance-reform-signing crew we've got in the WH right now. I know I can. Even on foreign policy, btw, while commendably hawkish, this group is tough to classify as "conservative" in any historical sense.
Me: I'm glad I got corrected on this because I missed it in the op-ed. The reader's right. Without looking up the details this second, I would say that Goldwater was certainly more hostile to the New Deal and the Great Society than Reagan, Gingrich or the Bushes. And his talk about lobbing a nuke into the Kremlin was certainly more "hawkish" than fretting about collateral damage as we do now.
Posted at 01:39 PM
JONAH'S ENTERPRISE CHAIR IN OPINIONJOURNALISM [KJL]
From a reader:
The opening scene of the seventh Star Trek movie featured the launching of the Enterprise-B. The bridge was full of reporters from various services covering the big event; Kirk couldn't move without a camera (or a dozen) being pushed in his face. When disaster hit, he made the reporters help out.
Posted at 01:37 PM
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW [Jonah Goldberg]
I agree with Kieran at Crooked Timber that conservatives might be poised to make too big a deal about The Day After Tomorrow,, but there's also more than a little disingenuousness in his swipe at Instapundit. After all, liberal groups and Al Gore are the ones who are definitely making too big a deal out of the movie already. Why is it okay for them to score political points by exploiting this apparently dumb movie but rebutting those points somehow worthy of scorn? His "it's just a movie" criticism also fails to take account of the fact that global warming is no less of a political hot button than, say, the JFK assasination but everyone put their two cents in on Oliver Stone's (presumably) equally idiotic movie.
Posted at 01:32 PM
AN ANSWER [Ramesh Ponnuru]
"The quotation means whatever you want it to mean. It was never part of a novel or story; instead, Fitzgerald wrote it in a notebook devoted to scraps and stray thoughts. The sentence has no context and appears by itself, separated from the previous and subsequent items (which are unrelated) with a horizontal line. So any guess as to what Fitzgerald meant is just that--a guess.
"For what it's worth, Fitzgerald wrote these notebooks when he was working on The Last Tycoon, which was unfinished at his death. Elsewhere in his notes, he planned the structure of that novel as a Shakespearean-style five-act play. So any suggestion that Fitzgerald had a three-act play in mind when he made his cryptic remark must be viewed with suspicion.
"My point of view is that whatever follows the first act is, by definition, the second act. So if there's no second act, that means the first act is all there is. But as I said, the sentence exists in isolation in Fitzgerald's notebook, so you can read into anything you want."
My comment: Thanks. Given the uncertainty about what Fitzgerald meant, maybe people should hold off declaring him to have been dead wrong--which is the usual context in which the quote is brought up.
Posted at 01:30 PM
FROM PAT TO JOE [John J. Miller]
Here's one Pat Toomey supporter who plans to vote for liberal Democrat Joe Hoeffel over Sen. Arlen Specter in November.
Posted at 01:27 PM
"THERE ARE NO SECOND ACTS IN AMERICAN LIFE" [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I read somewhere once that Fitzgerald did not mean by this what everyone assumes he meant--that Fitzgerald was not making the (false) claim that Americans generally don't get second chances or make new beginnings. Anyone who knows about this, please drop me a line at email@example.com. Thanks.
Posted at 01:06 PM
WOMEN VS. "WOMEN" [Jonah Goldberg]
Interesting point from a reader:
Posted at 01:00 PM
WHAT AN ODD OP-ED [Jonah Goldberg]
Kathryn I would have missed that piece if you hadn't linked to it. I agree with you that the silence of the Buckley and National Review omission is deafening. If I had more time I'd be interested in seeing the book -- there was a time when I reviewed books about conservatives more regularly, sigh. Obviously, the authors are focusing much more on organizational history than intellectual history -- "political brawn" not "brains" as they put it -- which probably explains the omission of pretty much any major conservative thinkers from the piece (and the inflation of the ACU into the right's Third International).
I don't think that's a bad approach necessarily and I really don't disagree with anything in the piece. But I can't shake the feeling that the Times' reasons for running it are quite contrary to the authors' reason for writing it. The Times certainly believes that conservative ascendancy is a trick, the product of the right's dishonesty at framing the public debate, using "wedge issues" etc. And, yeah, maybe the right is better at organization than the left -- though I think that's a muchless settled question than these guys do. But I'm sure most Times' readers, and editors, see this op-ed as proof that the right doesn't have better ideas, it's just more effective at hawking them.
Posted at 12:56 PM
WHAT'S NEXT? [KJL]
**Good columns put people in the mood to contribute, so Jonah needs to write a column with so many Simpsons references that he gets sued by 20th Century Fox. Tell Derbyshire to write a column in which every third word is "buggery."
Posted at 12:55 PM
THE KERRY SPOT [KJL]
Do you know what Michael Kelly said about John Kerry's most likely Sec't of State pick? You would if you were reading the new Kerry blog on NRO. Make sure you're checking in on The Kerry Spot on NRO.
Posted at 12:38 PM
"THE MOVEMENT" & US [KJL]
I read this oped this morning in the NYTimes this morning (how can anyone talk about American conservatives without mentioning WFB, by the way?) and was reminded of a nagging false impression that speaks to why we’re running this fund drive that’s all over the site today: Because National Review Online (and National Review on Dead Tree, as we affectionately call it, for that matter) is part of National Review, established 1955, by William F. Buckley Jr., with a rich history, etc., people assume, understandably, that we’re rolling in money. They see President’s Clubs at some think tanks and assume everyone on the Right gets their share from some collective pot. That’s not exactly how it goes though. Sure, we use think tank people’s pieces here, writing for us, but that doesn’t mean Heritage or AEI or whomever is slipping us a few mil or thou for a piece of our buzzmachine. They’re not. And—and I say this not to bemoan anyone what they have, just to state the truth—we don’t have any conference rooms named after anyone here, or endowed reporting chairs or the like, either. I say this all so you know (especially if you happen to have a few thou to spare!), we’re not doing this fundraiser because someone here was bored and thought it would be fun to make some new graphics. We’re doing it because we need it in order to continue offering you the best NRO possible every day: with the best commentary and analysis and reporting and essays and color and fun and all the rest NRO is. Do please consider a downpayment on Jonah’s chair in Enterprise Journalism (did Star Trek have reporters?—oh, darn, someone will probably tell me now…). Thanks again for everyone who has contributed thus far and thank you to everyone who is considering. It will not go to waste.
Posted at 12:36 PM
RE: CICADAS ARE FROM HELL [John Derbyshire]
Reader consensus is that it wasn't Charles Beaumont and it wasn't cicadas; it was Richard Matheson and crickets.
The name of the story was "Crickets," in fact. Sorry.
Posted at 12:33 PM
RE: SARIN [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Jonah, Balster's Blog got very close to, but missed, the really huge news behind the sarin gas shell. The thing was not marked. This is not the way you manufacture, store or deploy chemical munitions. They require special handling and careful considerations when used to avoid endangering your own troops. So why in the world would this chemical munition not be clearly marked? 1. Hiding the things from inspectors. Chemical weapons, disguised as conventional ordinance, would be extremely difficult to detect by anyone, especially if they were mixed in with conventional ordinance at weapons dumps, with innocuous markings (perhaps simple numbers) to allow handlers to tell the difference. If this be the case, our missing WMDs may very well be hiding in plain sight to this day, undiscovered until terrorists grabbed what they thought was a regular conventional artillery round from an unsecured sight that inspectoirs may have already gone through. 2. Disguising the things from Saddam's own commanders. It was no secret that America was serious about WMDs, and threatened war even during the Clinton administration over it. It was also no secret that WMDs were what American military commanders most feared in the event of an Iraqi invasion (remember the worries during the first Gulf War?). Saddam surely would have anticipated America appealing directly to Iraqi field commanders not to use chemical weapons, and may have known that we would hold those who did personally responsible in war crimes trials post invasion. We threatened exactly that. Faced with the possibility that his own commanders may not follow orders to use chemical weapons, he issues artillery shells and other weapons that are devoid of known markings that distinguish between types of ordinance. That means that if Iraqi cammanders shoot anything at all, the will likely shoot chemical weapons in the mix. Ironically, that may have backfired on Saddam. Many Iraqi Republican Guard Units deployed around Baghdad melted away faster than expected. What if that is because Iraqi commanders that suspected they had chemical weapons "in the mix" refused to use any of their weapons and abandoned their post? Of course, this is loaded with speculation. But whatever the reasoning, the story of unmarked chemical weapons munitions turning up randomly in central Iraq is bound to get real interesting. Real fast. Joe Frye
Posted at 12:28 PM
THE ANTIDEPRESSANT DEFENSE DOESN'T QUITE WORK HERE [Meghan Keane]
A 19-year-old from Howard County killed his friend by slipping cyanide in the 17 year old’s Vanilla Coke last year. The jury convicted him of first-degree murder yesterday and his mother told reporters “she was "deeply upset" by the verdict, which she said leaves adolescents who take antidepressants still "at risk" for the adverse side effects the defense blamed in the slaying.” The prosecutor responded with "Many people suffer from depression. Many people are on antidepressants. They don't go out and kill." It also didn’t hurt her case that the boy had been planning to murder his friend for several months.
Posted at 12:21 PM
LIFE BEHIND ENEMY LINES [Jonah Goldberg]
From the December 15, 2003 Time magazine story on the Iraqi insurgents (I got from Nexis so no link):
Financing and armaments appear to be in plentiful supply. When Abu Ali's network runs low on resources, it turns to a man identified only as "the Emir," a shadowy loyalist leader who summons Abu Ali to meetings at irregular intervals. "We are not rich men," Abu Ali says, "but we have everything." Old Soviet surface-to-air missiles that had been stockpiled by Saddam's regime go for upwards of $ 1,000 apiece on the black market, yet Abu Ali's organization has them in abundance. It also has access to a pipeline of weapons flowing across Iraq's borders. Another major Baghdad cell leader, Mohammed, happily displays the latest acquisition, a batch of 60mm mortars with markings in English that were hidden in a boggy field and retrieved by a farmer's wife. When asked how the group obtained them, Mohammed responds in a word: "Syria."
Posted at 12:01 PM
THAT SARIN SHELL [Jonah Goldberg]
Blaster's Blog has some interesting observations.
Posted at 11:49 AM
SKY NEWS: 4 ARRESTED IN BERG MURDER [KJL]
Posted at 10:53 AM
CICADAS ARE FROM HELL [John Derbyshire]
Jonah: I dimly recall a sci fi story -- I think it was one of Charles Beaumont's -- about a guy who finally figured out what the cicadas are saying to each other when they make that buzzy noise. You can guess what happened to him...
Posted at 10:52 AM
MARK STEYN KICKS BUTT [John Derbyshire]
...in the Chicago Sun-Times. Thank God he's on our side.
Posted at 10:51 AM
THE PROPHECY! THE PROPHECY! [Cosmo ]
I dream the dream of the white squirrel!
Posted at 10:48 AM
CICADAVILLE [Jonah Goldberg ]
While I do think this is pretty funny I'm posting it in part because people are sending me the link at the rate of once every ten minutes.
Posted at 10:46 AM
RE: TAX EXEMPT CHURCHES [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Tax exempt status does not keep my priest from spewing liberal garbage from the pulpit each week. To me, this is the Fox News syndrome. Nobody cared until the message became conservative.
Posted at 10:42 AM
UNFAIR TO WOMEN [Jonah Goldberg ]
The IOC has announced that men who undergo sex change operations will be allowed to compete in the Olympics as women. I doubt this will be a huge issue in the near term, but I think it's grossly unfair in general and probably sets a bad precedent. I know that the feminists like Colette Dowling believe it's a myth that women are naturally less athletic in any way, including strength, than men. But here in the real world where we use Earth logic this is nonsense. I'm sure feminists hail this as a step toward unisex sports, which is fine. But don't expect a lot of natural women to take the gold in greco-roman wrestling or play half-back in the NFL any time soon.
Posted at 10:38 AM
THAT VIRGINIA LAW [Ramesh Ponnuru]
A while ago, I said I would look into a bill underlying a dispute between Jonah and Andrew Sullivan. The latter said that Virginia had passed a law that made it impossible for gay couples to make certain contractual arrangements. He said that conservatives should denounce the bill, especially since many conservatives had suggested the use of contracts as a substitute for the practical benefits of same-sex marriage.
Here’s the Virginia law in question: “A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable.”
So let's say two men purchase property jointly and sign a contract stipulating that if one of them dies, the other gets the property to the exclusion of any other heirs. That would be a private contract that mimicked an arrangement that married couples have as a matter of course. On Sullivan’s reading of the law, the contract would be void and unenforceable because it would be “purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage.” If that's right, such a contract would have to be unenforceable even for two brothers--which is such a weird result that it ought to raise a question about the reasonableness of the interpretation.
The alternative view is that the law is a way for Virginia to block recognition of civil unions from other states without blocking purely private arrangements. The first sentence restates that Virginia does not have civil unions under any name, and the second blocks the courts from importing them from Vermont. Two people of the same sex would be able, then, to reach any contractual arrangements unless Virginia had reserved them to married couples. So, for example, if Virginia had a law saying that only married couples could have joint adoption rights, it would be impossible for same-sex couples to arrange joint adoption in Vermont and have that arrangement recognized in Virginia. Nor could two men enforce an out-of-state “contract” saying, “We two enter a relation that has all the privileges or obligations of marriage,” where enforcement would require the government to grant them something the law reserves to married couples.
If, on the other hand, the law allowed any two people to do something--create durable powers of attorney, living wills, etc.--then the law would not prevent a same-sex couple (or two brothers) from doing the same thing just because they were of the same sex.
The narrower reading seems to me much more plausible. The theory behind this reading is that confronted with the words “the privileges or obligations of marriage,” a court or executive agent should look to the other laws of Virginia to figure out what those privileges or obligations are--and not try to derive some other meaning for them from another source. For the purpose of state law, the privileges and obligations of marriage are whatever state law says they are. The purpose of the law is to prevent any other state’s decision about these matters from overriding those of Virginia.
What are the implications of this reading for what we should think about the law? If you support same-sex civil unions or marriage, you will of course object to the Virginia law. But if you accept its decision in the matter, it seems reasonable also to accept its decision to ensure that other states do not override that decision. And if you oppose civil unions but favor same-sex couples’ having all the rights that any two unmarried people have, then you will support the law.
Posted at 10:35 AM
HOMOSEXUALITY & GENETICS [John Derbyshire]
I screwed up my explanation of the "disease" theory of homosexuality in yesterday's Corner post, at any rate according to this major-league scientist -- highly respected in his field, though not, I am guessing, an NR subscriber:
"Derbyshire---I can't get all that mad at someone who's just not very bright…can't you get anything right?
"No, you have not understood it correctly. In principle there could be a gene that protected carriers (those with one copy) against something like malaria and screwed up people with two copies, say made them homosexual. That's no worse than just killing the guys with two copies, which is what sickle-cell does. It's evolutionary possible... But it never happened.
"It is only possible if that mutation protects agaisnt a really deadly disease, one that kills a lot of people. The disease in question would have to kill a lot more people than homosexuality sterilizies, for there to be a balance. If you want I'll show you the algebra, but at the moment take my word for it.
"There have been in human history at most two diseases that powerful: falciparum malaria and, just maybe, smallpox. Nothing else affects enough people. Now if this were a malaria defense, you'd only see in people who originated in the tropical and semitropical parts of the Old World - you wouldn't see it in England at all, any more than you find sickle-cell in ye Olde English Types. If it were a smallpox defense, you wouldn't see homosexuality in Amerindians or Polynesians - but you do.
"Moreover, if it were a genetic disease defense, it would have a certain very simple and identifiable inheritance pattern, and it certainly does not have that pattern. Identical twins would both have it, but the chance that a homosexual man's identical twin is also homosexual is only about 20%.
"So, no, it isn't a genetic disease defense.
"Most likely, it's just a disease, caused by some infectious organism that in some subtle way screws up the brain centers involved in recognition/interest in the opposite sex. Most likely a nucleus in the hypothalamus that functions only in men. I mean it's a infectious disease in the same sense that measles or syphilis or stomach ulcers or uterine cancer are infectious diseases. Bill Hamilton thought this explanation made good sense and he knew his [expletive deleted].
"By the way, feel free to quote me as long as you make clear that I'm impatiently waiting to [different expletive deleted] on the grave of you and everyone else at NR.
"P.S. I figure you understand science better than anyone else at NR. Shudder"
Thank you, Sir. We are always grateful for input from experts. Good luck with your anger management program!
For yet another take on this fascinating topic, see this following interview with Louis A. Berman, author of "THE PUZZLE: Exploring the Evolutionary Puzzle of Male Homosexuality." However, Chandler Burr comments on this interview that much of what Berman is saying is just what Chandler said in his own book A Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological origins of Sexual Orientation, and the rest is (says Chandler) "silly."
Posted at 10:35 AM
STILL MORE ON THAT ULYSSES SPEECH [John Derbyshire]
I've been waiting for Noah Millman, my Shakepeare Guy, to enter the lists. Here he comes:
"(1) The whole scene is part of a strategy Ulysses devises to get Achilles back into combat. The speech, then, is a *calculated* piece of rhetoric, not an expression of Ulysses' - much less Shakespeare's - feeling. That strategy, of course, fails. Indeed, *every* strategy Ulysses proposes in Troilus & Cressida fails. What does that say about how we are to take this speech - purportedly 'one of the greatest in world literature'? I don't think we are to take it at face value. An analogy: the phrase, 'some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them' is also frequently quoted without irony. But the phrase comes from a letter written to trick Malvolio into making a great ass of himself; the writer was not only insincere, but contrived the phrase specifically to appeal to a self-infatuated fool. Another analogy: 'discretion is the better part of valor' - where's that from? From a speech by Falstaff - 'the better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have saved my life.' Falstaff is a notorious coward, and this is part of a speech in defense not of courage tempered by prudence but of outright cowardice. It's sophistry - brilliant sophistry, by a most sympathetic rogue, but sophistry nonetheless. So, too, with all of Ulysses' speeches in Troilus: they are impressive feats of rhetoric, and have often been taken as statements of authorial sentiment. But the play will not support this interpretation, for Ulysses' character spends the entire play devising strategems, using his vaunted cunning to try to effect an outcome that he cannot achieve forthrightly - and he always fails. He is not a hero in the piece (if there is a hero). Finally, this should be no surprise, as the English identified with the Trojans (Aeneas had purportedly gone on to found Britain) not the Greeks, and Ulysses specifically had long since been reinterpreted as the type of a man of 'policy' rather than a man of forthright action - a Machiavel, a Dick Morris type. It would be very surprising for Shakespeare to use him as a mouthpiece for lofty sentiment that he wished to endorse.
"(2) 'Nature' has many meanings in Shakespeare, some of them mutually contradictory. See for example, the extraordinary variety of uses of the word in King Lear, where Lear's use of the word suggests a meaning almost precisely opposite to the meaning suggested when used by Edmund. 'Nature' in this case means something like 'virtue' or 'worth' and the phrase, 'one touch of nature makes the whole world kin' means simply that all you need is a *touch* of nature for everyone to want to call himself your cousin. The apposite image is the crowd choosing gilt-covered dust to dust-covered gold. A 'touch' - a little gilding - is all it takes for everyone to rush to associate with you, whereas only a thin coating of dust - the effect of the passage of time - is all it takes for everyone to forget that there's gold underneath. Your correspondent who says, 'in *this* - this self-destructive and cyclical process - we are "all made kin"' is making too much of the phrase. Shakespeare is *not saying* that everyone is kin - not because we all share a 'touch of nature' nor because we are all decadent and superficial. Rather, he's just saying that 'everyone wants to be cousin to the guy who's successful today.'
Posted at 10:31 AM
FELIX UNGER, RIP [KJL]
News coming in that Tony Randall has died. He's evidently been sick.
Posted at 10:15 AM
BISHOPS AND COMMUNION [Rod Dreher]
In my Dallas Morning News column today, I write about the sad fact that the bishops who are admonishing pro-choice Catholic politicians and voters are doing so in the context of a Church environment in which the "hard teachings" of Catholicism have been by and large ignored for 40 years by the clergy. Read the whole piece here.
Posted at 10:09 AM
RE: SLY SY [Tim Graham]
John Ashcroft is "demented." President Bush "doesn't know much." Don Rumsfeld "thinks he's Woody Allen." The Iraq war was going to start a "horrible Armageddon." These are the thoughts of the very liberal journalist Seymour Hersh in 2002.
Posted at 09:55 AM
WHAT YOU'RE SAYING ABOUT NRO [KJL]
Late last week some of you responded to a Corner request to explain why you read NRO. Go here to read some of the testimonials, today updated with some comments (and ###s!) from readers who generously contributed to our fund-drie effort yesterday. Please do consider opening your wallet to NRO today. The sooner we reach 50k, the sooner I will shut up.
Posted at 09:55 AM
CICADAS [Jonah Goldberg]
I thought this was all a bit hyped. But it is now officially disgusting in my neighborhood and it constantly sounds like circa 1950s (i.e. "War of the Worlds") type flying saucers are approaching.
Posted at 09:40 AM
FILL A WETLAND, GO TO JAIL [Jonathan H. Adler]
The NYT reports on the case of John Rapanos. Convicted on two counts of filling wetlands on his own property without a federal permit, Rapanos now faces over five years in federal prison. At sentencing, the disgused federal district court judge remarked:
So here we have a person who comes to the United States and commits crimes of selling dope and the government asks me to put him in prison for 10 months. And then we have an American citizen who buys land, pays for it with his own money, and he moves some sand from one end to the other and government wants me to give him 63 months in prison. Now, if that isn't our system gone crazy, I don't know what is. And I am not going to do it.The district court judge was reversed, however, and ordered to send Rapanos to prison.
Posted at 09:35 AM
YET MORE ON THAT ULYSSES SPEECH [John Derbyshire]
(The one in Shakespeare's Troilus & Cressida, that is.) I don't want to thrash this to death, but it really is a magnificent speech, one of the Bard's best. Here's a follow up on my previous post.
"Dear Mr. Derbyshire---I believe there are typos in the post. Certainly the quotation near the end goes into an unwanted loop. I don't know where your reader wanted to quit the quotation, but the speech ends with:
"Then marvel not, thou great and complete man, That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax; Since things in motion sooner catch the eye Than what not stirs. The cry went once on thee, And still it might, and yet it may again, If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive And case thy reputation in thy tent; Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late, Made emulous missions 'mongst the gods themselves And drave great Mars to faction."(The Greeks worshiping Ajax bit is where the trouble begins.)
"I think a straight quotation from the beginning of the speech is so much more germane, especially if one keeps Mr. Rumsfeld and his whole department in mind (except for the morons at the prison) -- no, how about *any* real conservative hero you can think of: Churchill thrown out at the end of WWII, Ronald Reagan, Lady Thatcher...
"Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back, Wherein he puts alms for oblivion, A great-sized monster of ingratitudes: Those scraps are good deeds past; which are devour'd As fast as they are made, forgot as soon As done: perseverance, dear my lord, Keeps honour bright: to have done is to hang Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail In monumental mockery. Take the instant way; For honour travels in a strait so narrow, Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path; For emulation hath a thousand sons That one by one pursue: if you give way, Or hedge aside from the direct forthright, Like to an enter'd tide, they all rush by And leave you hindmost; Or like a gallant horse fall'n in first rank, Lie there for pavement to the abject rear, O'er-run and trampled on: then what they do in present, Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours; For time is like a fashionable host ..."I must say, though, having now read the play through twice and watched the DVD, and listened to peter Saccio's commentaries, I think this is a cruel, ugly play, showing humanity at its worst.
Posted at 09:32 AM
"THANKS FOR THE TIP" [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
You've railed against the Black Caucus many times. So now I use it as a quick yes/no vote when I see someone in the media. So, Dennis Miller had some guy "blah blah Black Caucus blah blah".
Posted at 09:11 AM
LEVIN MAKES A GOOD CASE [KJL]
Have you listened to Mark Levin's audio message to NRO readers. Please do. And not only because he makes me look good. Listen here.
Posted at 07:40 AM
SLY SY [KJL]
It's worth rereading John Miller's 2001 piece on Sy Hersh.
Posted at 07:36 AM
THE REAL REASON FOR THE 9/11 COMMISSION [KJL]
It's a New School fundraiser. A reader e-mails: "I just saw Keane and Hamilton give an interview on Fox News. They were seated in front of a mural of the new School building with a New School Banner strategically placed between them so it could be clearly read." I am told they had the same backdrop on Today. I'm sure there were and will be more.
Posted at 07:34 AM
JUST A SUGGESTION [John Derbyshire]
One of the readers who purchased my poetry CD on April 30, & was therefore entitled to a refund, did indeed get that refund into his PayPal account. However, he was one of those who didn't really want the refund, being happy to pay for the CD. His solution: turn the PayPal amount round & send it to the NRO fundraiser. Neat, ingenious, and generous. Thanks, Kevin!
Posted at 07:31 AM
FOR SHAKESPEARE BUFFS *ONLY* [John Derbyshire]
"Dear Mr. Derbyshire---In your May 14 2004 NRO piece, 'Here to Stay,' you refer to a well-known phrase from Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida -- 'One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.' The phrase, unfortunately for your essay -- which I am sympathetic with and found rhetorically adroit -- is also perhaps incorrectly taken out of context more than any other in Shakespeare. The sense of the entire passage is most assuredly *negative* regarding the 'the whole world['s]' very ability to distinguish between the proven virtues and new-fangled characters and mores.
"In this speech of Ulysses [III, iii], one of the greatest in world literature, Achilles is sulking in his tent, in large part because he isn't being shown the respect he deserves for his acts in the past, vastly superior to those of the he cloddish young soldier Ajax, who now is being praised to the heavens. (It may be noted that Ajax is getting center stage precisely because Achilles isn't taking part.)
"Halfway into the speech, an image of social time as a changeable is introduced:
"For time is like a fashionable host"Now we come to the passage with the 'touch of nature.' [I might add that the opportunity for comparisons here with the travails of Rumsfeld and Kerry, with 'news-cycles,' etc., run throughout the extraordinarily diverse political thought and characterization in the play.]
"But the meaning of the entire passage, as introduced [in this excerpt] by the similie of the fashionable host, is that virtue will be 'remunerated' not for what it was, but for what every passing fad says it should be -- people by their very nature will praise 'new-born gawds' highlighted by 'envious and calumniating time,' and they will laud even dust, when covered with cheap gilt, than gold with some dust on it.
"The phrase, then, cited out of context, is taken to imply that the result of our shared nature is that we, being 'kin,' are all kindred, in the modern, morally positive Western sense: 'we are all brothers,' 'we are the world,' etc. This is contrary to Shakespeare's meaning; in any other it is simply tautological.
"Rather, the self-decay of a society blessed with the proven virtuous stems from in the very 'nature' of man (the slightest touch of it, in fact); in this--this self-destructive and cyclical process--we are 'all made kin'.
"For beauty, wit, High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service, Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all To envious and calumniating time. One touch of nature makes the whole world kin, That all with one consent praise new-born gawds, Though they are made and moulded of things past, And give to dust that is a little gilt More laud than gilt o'er-dusted. The present eye praises the present object. Then marvel not, thou great and complete man, That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax; Since things in motion sooner catch the eye Than what not stirs. The present eye praises the present object. Then marvel not, thou great and complete man, That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax; Since things in motion sooner catch the eye Than what not stirs."I hope everybody's got that. Not sure I have.
Posted at 07:30 AM
COMISH IS BACK [KJL]
The 9/11 Commission is holding hearings today on my turf--in NYC, at...Bob Kerrey's school (for which he left the president to fundraise when last we met him in this capacity). I don't know about you, but I so don't have the patience for him and his fellow bloviators again, under the auspices of an important investigation.
Posted at 04:50 AM
SMALL WORLD: 1,000-OMELET TRIVIA [KJL]
A reader notes: "I couldn't resist this. Did you note the last name of the hotel manager? I believe that is Richard Pipes son / Richard Pipes brother. I saw Pipes on Booknotes for Vixi, and he said that he had two children: Richard, and another that was a hotel manager in NYC."
Posted at 04:31 AM
Monday, May 17, 2004
IT GOT WORSE [Roger Clegg]
In rereading Brown v. Board of Education on its fiftieth anniversary, I recalled how conservatives have frequently criticized the opinion itself as being long on sociology and short on legal analysis. But in comparison with last summer’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger—upholding the use of racial preferences in admission by the University of Michigan law school—Brown is a model of rigor and restraint. Brown makes reference to the Constitution’s text and history, and relegates the sociology by and large to footnotes; Grutter, on the other hand, makes no pretense of following any legal text and puts the sociology—all dubious—front and center. One shudders to imagine what Supreme Court opinions will read like fifty years hence.
Posted at 09:07 PM
RE: CHURCHES AND TAXES [Jonah Goldberg ]
Ramesh, when I was, briefly, the token conservative on this thing called the Spitfire Tour , the issue of abolishing the tax exempt status of churches came up constantly. I was fairly bowled-over at first because I had no idea so many people felt so strongly about it or could be so ignorant about the financial or constitutional issues (I'm insinuating no such thing about Brainbridge or anybody involved in that debate, by the way). The speakers, most especially Jello Biafra, and the kids in the audience routinely asserted that elimination of the tax exemption would raise more than enough money for [Insert huge socialistic public policy here]. Moreover, whenever I mentioned that there were constitutional hurdles involved in expropriating the assets of various religious institutions, they looked at me as if I had said, "not everybody thinks it's cool to smoke pot."
So, while I agree with you that it's outrageous, I don't really find it that shocking.
[Note: for some reason in the original post I'd said "financial and technological issues." I changed it to "financial and constitutional issues."
Posted at 08:49 PM
HOWEVER [Jonah Goldberg]
If you send a check directly to me for $250 - $500 you can get a shirt signed by me and with the signatures of ten NR writers -- including several deceased ones -- forged by me!
Posted at 07:58 PM
...for your one-of-a-kind exclusive signed NRO t-shirt (signed by 5 NRO writers, including Jonah), you must make your $500-$1,000 donation (thank you those who have) before 9 PM EST time.
Posted at 07:15 PM
CHURCHES AND TAXES [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Prof. Bainbridge mentions that the question of the Catholic church's tax exemption has been raised in light of what critics regard as impermissible politicking by it against pro-abortion candidates. I've seen and heard some comments to this effect myself. I find the idea that the bishops should have to consult with tax lawyers before deciding what they can say about their public mission shocking. If the tax exemption causes even the slightest compromise in a church's teaching on anything, that church ought to just give it up.
Posted at 06:02 PM
RE: CROSS COUNTRY TRIP [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Posted at 05:48 PM
SPEAKING OF TRAVELLING DIARIES [Jonah Goldberg]
I will be posting from London from time to time next week. And, later this summer the Goldberg Family will be driving cross-country again. This time we'll get the whole band together, the Fair Jessica, lil Lucy, Cosmo, me -- and possibly a drummer type character who keeps exploding a la Spinal Tap. It'll be an adventure. Please, no suggestions where to stop quite yet. We won't be going until August.
Posted at 04:58 PM
DAVID FRUM'S TRAVELLING DIARY IS UP [KJL]
Posted at 04:27 PM
AN EXCLUSIVE DEAL FOR YOU [KJL]
...Here's a one-day deal: Anyone who donates $500-$1,000 between now and 9 PM EST tonight gets a signed NRO t-shirt, signed by five NRO writers, making it a cyber-conservative classic. Someday you'll sell it for millions on ebay. Meet the challenge: Go for the $500 Club today: Do it here.
Posted at 04:20 PM
RE: RUSSERT'S SELF-IMPORTANCE [Tim Graham]
Jonah, I can't help but think people get turned off the more a Tim Russert complains about his air times equals democracy, and cutting him short equals the end of democracy as we know it. The arrogance of power, indeed. Any more incidents like this, and Tim may have to thumb-wrestle Ted Koppel for the lead role in "L'Etat C'est Moi."
Posted at 03:55 PM
THANK YOU... [KJL]
...to everyone who has subscribed and donated today. We're still pretty far off from our goal, but we're inching there. We just got our first $1,000 donation. Hey, we only need 40-something more of those!
Seriously, thank you very much for whatever you sign up for. Again, I guarantee you we're not going to waste your money on fancy lunches and other luxuries. We're bare bones here. That's not to complain, that's to reassure you. No one gets paid what they're worth. No one doesn't make sacrifices to be part of this team. We do it because we believe it in. We are devoted to the causes we write about. We're loyal to this great mothership WFB founded in 1955. And we're dedicated to bringing you the best we can we the resources we have. And we do a pretty good job, as so many of you can attest to.
We really couldn't do what we do without your support--thank you in advance for investing in NRO.
Posted at 03:52 PM
ON BROWN'S ANNIVERSARY [Ramesh Ponnuru]
A little heresy from the City Journal. I believe that Michael McConnell's argument for the compatibility of Brown with originalism postdates this article.
Posted at 03:47 PM
RE: KIPLING, ORWELL, AND THE DERB [John Derbyshire]
Peter: Quite right. And thanks for giving "Recessional" an airing. One can never see enough of this wonderful poem. I once got an NRO column out of it.
Posted at 03:41 PM
CONGENITAL VS. GENETIC [John Derbyshire]
A surprising number of readers of my Friday column seem to think that "congenital" is a synonym for "genetic." Not so. Here is the Merriam-Webster's Third entry for "congenital":
1 : existing at or dating from birth congenital idiocy congenital malformations : belonging to or associated with from birth : INNATE congenital good health : constituting an essential characteristic : INHERENT the congenital State Department fear of newsmen A.H.Vandenberg 1951 : from birth or by nature *a congenital liar*Note that in the second meaning, "congenital" is actually *opposed* to "hereditary."
The evidence that homosexual orientation is, in most cases, congenital, is rather strong, though still disputed by respectable authorities. The evidence that there is some genetic component is less strong, and more disputed -- though on my own fragmentary and non-systematic reading, it seems to me probable that there *is* some genetic component to homosexual orientation. (Homosexual *acts*, of course, are products of the human will.)
If indeed there is some genetic component to homosexual orientation, that is an evolutionary conundrum, since obviously an amatory preference for one's own sex carries a "negative Darwinian load." (Sorry about the jargon, but I think the meaning is clear.) That does not by any means "disprove Darwinism," though, as a couple of readers crowed. It is possible to think of Darwinian explanations for a genetic component, and a great deal of intellectual effort has gone into this over the past 20 years or so. Early models -- the "kind gay uncle" theory is best known (the idea being that non-reproducing but caring members of the tribe add a *group* benefit in child-raising that outweighs the *individual* Darwinian negative) -- could not be made to work mathematically, and are not now taken very seriously.
Other possibilities have been thought up, though, of which the most interesting is the disease theory. Here the idea (if I have understood it correctly) is that a genetic mutation that protects us against some horrid disease turned up, with the slight downside that it pre-disposes to homosexuality in some small minority of gene-bearers, presumably by acting in concert with certain other genes that some people have and some don't. The Darwinian positive (protection against that disease, whatever it is) sufficiently outweighs the negative (1 to 4 percent of the population are non-reproducing homosexuals) to keep the gene in play. Sickle-cell anemia (a by-product of a genetic defense against malaria) offers a parallel. The evolutionary mathematics of this *can* be made to work, though until we get deeper into the genetic code it has to be regarded as speculative.
I will say again what I have said before on this site: The scientific understanding of human nature is right now just about where chemistry was in 1700, or electricity in 1800, or the atom in 1900. This is going to be a very interesting century. AND the results we are starting to get suggest that human nature is much more like what conservatives have always said, than like what liberals have told us.
Posted at 03:37 PM
RE: RUSSERT [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Jonah, Interesting tidbit about Russert. On the morning sports show here in Boston (Dennis and Callahan on WEEI), the 2 hosts were referring to this story about Powell's aide cutting the interview short and the outright hypocrisy Russert is showing. Mr. Russert came on to their show last week to promote his new book and the press aide for Mr. Russert was, according to the two of them, very heavy-handed in making sure that the interview not take longer than 10 minutes (the same length of time the Powell interview was supposed to last). Apparently it's all right for Russert to go over the allotted time during an interview he is conducting, but not one that he is giving. Unacceptable indeed.
Posted at 03:32 PM
NEW FEATURE [KJL]
As part of our effort to offer you a better NRO every day, today we introduce the "Kerry Spot," where Jim Geraghty will be reporting and blogging through Election Day. Get comfortable: you'll be wanting to visit regularly. You can reach Jim with tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted at 03:26 PM
THE RUSSERT FLAP [Jonah Goldberg]
Look, I think the abrupt ending of the Russert interview with Colin Powell was spectacularly stupid on the part of the press aide responsible. But I also think Russert's hamming it up unnecessarily. He said on CNN yesterday: "This is the United States of America. It really is unacceptable." (Quote found in the Hotline)
Oh come on. Russert knows that interviews are cut off abruptly every day -- every hour -- in Washington. What made this a bigger deal is that Russert -- an 800 pound gorilla in terms of his media stature -- had it happen to him and his vanity was bruised. I agree that the theatricality of it was bad and made Powell look bad -- which is why he insisted the interview continue. But if cutting off a taped interview after it exceeds the allotted time is a sign of something ominous then every press conference which concludes with "no more questions" is an example of censorship.
Posted at 03:02 PM
MOORE'S OVATION [Jonah Goldberg]
I find the buzz and adulation about Moore's movie simultaneously so pathetic and so depressing, I haven't been able to muster much energy to read up on it. That said, this tidbit from Drudge piqued my interest. "Movie shows video of U.S. soldiers laughing as they place hoods over Iraqi detainees, with one of them grabbing a prisoner's genitals through a blanket..."
It does cause me to wonder how Moore got that particular footage. If it was shot for the film with cooperation of the troops, then that raises some interesting legal-ethical issues for Moore and for the soldiers. Since I think Moore's a deeply dishonest guy, it wouldn't shock me if the scene was staged. Which would also raise some issues for Moore and for the lessons of Abu Ghraib. There may be a completely above-board explanation which is even in the film itself. One way to find out would be for me to see it, which as of right now is too high a price to pay.
Posted at 02:45 PM
SO MUCH FOR "MARRIAGE" [KJL]
According to the Boston Herald, here is what the vfirst recipient of a Provincetown Massachusetts same-sex marriage license had to say about marriage: "[Jonathan Yarbrough] says the concept of forever is 'overrated' and that he, as a bisexual, and [his partner Cody] Rogahn, who is gay, have chosen to enjoy an open marriage. `I think it's possible to love more than one person and have more than one partner, not in the polygamist sense,' he said. `In our case, it is, we have, an open marriage.''
Posted at 02:37 PM
A speech worth reading.
Posted at 02:31 PM
RE: NEW SHOES [KJL]
Having been to O'Beirne dinner parties, definitely worth $50,000!
Posted at 01:43 PM
HELPRIN [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Helprin's a good man, but he's wrong on several levels. This was my response to his article:
Posted at 01:20 PM
KENNEDY SHOULD RESIGN [KJL]
The Alabama Mobile Register is calling on Massachusetts's senior senator to call it quits--and challenges John Kerry to nudge him.
Posted at 12:56 PM
THE BABY NEEDS SHOES [Kate O'Beirne]
For the $50,000 that will help us win this war. . a dinner party at my house with ALL of NRO's editors and contributers. Now get to work. . .
Posted at 12:49 PM
UNDERSTANDING MASSACHUSETTS [KJL]
Read the NRODT editorial, Hadley Arkes & more on the homepage today.
Posted at 12:27 PM
THE WMDS WE FIND DON'T COUNT [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Watching Wolf Blitzer interview a CNN reporter The reporter answering Blitzer's question about whether the Sarin constitutes the "smoking gun", the reporter says (I paraphrase) that US intelligence, every intelligence agency, the UN etc ALL believed Saddam had not destroyed....blah blah. Get it? Now EVERYONE believed it all along. Stunning....but not unexpected.
Posted at 12:21 PM
THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. [Peter Robinson ]
Suggestions on places to stay and sights to see during the Robinson family's trip to New England (see my posting below) are rolling merrily in. I'll file a summary report in due course. But my favorite suggestion so far? To take the Ben and Jerry's factory tour. Questionable politics, perhaps, but I have a feeling our kids would concentrate on the ice cream.
Posted at 12:18 PM
A NOTE TO MY SIDE [Ramesh Ponnuru]
of this argument: I think one reason that the idea of denying communion to pro-abortion politicians has been misunderstood by many people is that some of the people who are for it have failed to sound some of the right rhetorical notes. Conservative Catholics who have long urged the bishops to take this step should not be gleeful at its being taken; they should be saddened that it is necessary. We should avoid any suggestion that the denial of communion is a punishment, since there is no retributive element (and a large charitable element) to it. And we should make it clear that the church is not casting people out but inviting them more fully in. We must pray that those denied communion will restore themselves to full communion with the church, as unlikely a prospect as that now seems.
Posted at 12:17 PM
ON KIPLING: DERB VS. ORWELL [Peter Robinson]
Derb, I still very much like those couple of sentences in the middle of the Orwell quotation you posted below--while the opposition gets to sit around striking poses, those in power must decide what to do--but like you I find a great deal to in Orwell's assessment of Kipling that strikes me as mistaken.
Kipling sold out to the governing classes? He dealt in platitudes? Nonsense. Consider just one poem, Recessional. Here’s the third stanza (for the entire poem, click here):
Far-call’d our navies melt away--Kipling wrote Recessional, of course, to mark Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, the 1897 event that found the empire at its apogee. To suggest that the empire would all turn to ashes--to suggest that even then it was all beginning to fade away--and that what truly mattered was not riches or power but (as Kipling, quoting the psalm, puts it in another stanza) “An humble and a contrite heart”-- that was hardly the stand of a sycophant or peddler of platitudes.
You’ve got Kipling right, Derb, and Orwell’s got him wrong.
Posted at 12:16 PM
BREAD AND WATER [Jonah Goldberg]
Lots of email like this:
Posted at 12:12 PM
"SHOWDOWN AT THE COMMUNION RAIL" [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I was going to refrain from commenting on the latest piece about this issue on the theory that we have a few readers who aren't Catholics and may not care about this question quite as much as I do. But I'm writing about it anyway because: 1) While the theology of communion in the Catholic church is obviously specific to it, people of other faiths or none have to wrestle with some of the same questions of justice and moral standards. 2) The resolution of the issue may have some political effects, so non-Catholic readers may be interested in it. 3) I just can't help myself.
We're given, in the linked piece, two arguments for why the bishops should offer communion to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion. First: "How many of us Catholics are completely worthy every Sunday of receiving what we believe to be the body and blood of Jesus? The church understands this and has long left it up to the individual to wrestle with his or her conscience as to whether going to Communion is appropriate. To turn the tables and make the giving of Communion contingent on a public, political litmus test would politicize a sacred ritual that is and always should be beyond politics."
Actually, none of us are worthy to receive the Lord, and we even say so beforehand. If legislators voted on abortion by secret ballot and did not disclose their positions to the public, it would indeed be appropriate to handle the issue in the confessional rather than in public. But the sin under discussion--that of unjustly denying the unborn legal protections that everyone else has--is committed in public. A public denial of communion is thus necessary to prevent people from reaching the false conclusion that persisting in this sin is compatible with staying in communion with the church.
Second, the denial of communion would make the church seem to be allied with the Republican party. The article ignores the existence of two to three dozen pro-life House Democrats, which is not an insignificant faction of the entire caucus even if it gets little public attention. But leave that aside. The argument boils down to this: The bishops are supposed to let members of their flock endanger their souls without doing much to help them, because of a political calculation about the effects of this pastoral care. You don't have to be familiar with canon law to see that the bishops just can't follow this advice.
Posted at 12:09 PM
"LIKE WINNING THE WORLD SERIES AND STANLEY CUP ON THE SAME DAY" [KJL]
The scene from "same-sex marriage" day in Boston.
Posted at 12:07 PM
THE MAIN REASON FOR YOU TO GIVE MONEY TO NRO [KJL]
may be to get me to shut up. Tempting, isn't it? Go for it.
Posted at 11:56 AM
HELPRIN [Jonah Goldberg ]
This is very tough stuff but very much worth reading.
Posted at 11:41 AM
RE FLOGGING [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Hi Jonah, I lived in Singapore and can say that I'm not so sure it is preferable. They instituted caning for too many traffic offenses (in Malaysia there was the case of a 13 year old getting caned for drowning puppies. Just I thought)! This is what I've been told about caning. First hit hurts like nothing else, second draws blood and on the third you are unconscious. Afterward you butt is swollen to the size of a basketball and you can't sit for about a month. But, in the case of Singapore, caning isn't the only deterrent. Changi prison holds its own special dread. It is the old British Colonial prison and since those days the only upgrades have been electricity and running water. And the guards are all Ghurkas, no soft Singaporeans to do the job. All in all it is a place that would make the ACLU howl. But all that said, it works. While I was there we once went through a 90 day stretch without a single felony being committed. Name me any other metropolitan area with a population over 2 million that can make such a claim.
Posted at 11:38 AM
YOU'LL GET MORE THAN AN OMLET FOR 1,000 HERE [KJL]
Posted at 11:18 AM
BREAD AND WATER [Jonah Goldberg]
Email from Poppa G:
Posted at 11:04 AM
$50,000 LUNCH [KJL]
For the record, if more than one person donates $50,000, you'll each get a lunch, with or without drinks, etc. I want to make sure we're clear and not discouraging anyone!
$50,000 in a shot aside, we appeciate--and will put to good use--every donation. But if you have high-roller type friends who read NRO, do encourage them.
Posted at 11:03 AM
THE MCCAIN NONSENSE [Jonah Goldberg ]
I was just reading the Kerry Spot (not sure about that name) on the McCain-as-veep boomlet.
I'm sorry but I think it's all very cynical and very sad. Kerry's smart to name-drop McCain everywhere he goes because it's a nice symbolic way of reaching out to pro-war and pro-McCain moderates and independents. I like McCain translates into "I'm not the soft-on-Communism, soft-on-defense, UN loving peacnick my voting record suggests I am." Though I could see this hurting Kerry down the road when he ends up picking someone far more liberal and far less exciting.
But the idea that McCain could or would be Kerry's Veep is so profoundly cynical it really bothers me. Andrew Sullivan, for example, is in full swoon over the idea because he thinks McCain's right on defense and the war and all that. Fine, but McCain's voting record is completely opposed to Kerry's on defense. And McCain would be the Vice President, as in the one who normally has to shed all of his views in order to be in sync with the guy at the top of the ticket (remembeer Joe Lieberman's Vice Presidential Fire Sale of Principles? Everything Must Go!). Sure, maybe Kerry would flip-flop again in order to tailor his views to McCain's -- but that would be a boon to Nader and an outrage to the base -- or, more likely, McCain would have to change his views for political reasons which would undermine his over-hyped integrity.
The cynicism in all of this becomes even more apparent when you consider Kerry's recent suggestion that both Carl Levin and McCain were on his short list for Secretary of Defense. This is like saying that Steve Forbes and Dennis Kucinich are on short list to run Treasury.
But forget about defense. What about abortion? McCain's pro-life. He may not be adamantly so, but that's the way he votes. A prolifer on the Democratic ticket? Please. As Kate O'Beirne noted during 2000 campaign, abortion is still the one untouchable issue among Democrats. If McCain stood his ground on the issue it would be a nightmare for Kerry. If McCain flip-flopped on such a bedrock moral issue, he would defenestrate even more of his integrity.
Ultimately, what I find so distasteful about all of this is the degree to which it reveals issues don't matter. Popularity and personal relationships count more than beliefs. McCain's popular and he gets along with Kerry and the press, so who cares that with the exception of campaign finance "reform" McCain's a fairly conservative Republican and foreign policy hawk and Kerry's a fairly liberal Democrat and foreign policy dove? The Kerry-McCain boosters say "that's the genius of it! It would be a unity ticket!"
Fine, I just don't believe that false unity is better than honest disagreement.
Posted at 11:01 AM
AT LEAST HE'S HONEST [KJL]
A good source tells me: "As students began to leave their seats at the end of George Washington University's graduation ceremony Sunday, school president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said, 'And you may now turn your tassels from right to left, as I hope happened to your politics in the last four years.'"
Posted at 10:35 AM
NERVE GAS IN IRAQ [KJL]
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent exploded near a U.S. military convoy, but there were no casualties, the U.S. military said Monday.Correct me if I am wrong, but that would definitely suggest WMDs, correct?
Posted at 10:29 AM
NEW ENGLAND: A DESPERATE BLEG [Peter Robinson ]
In the middle of June, my wife and I will be taking all five of our children to New England. Is there anyone out there who can tell us what to do with them?
A word of background:
This year my Dartmouth College class, the Class of 1979, will be holding its 25th reunion. My wife and I would have attended the reunion in any event--the friends I made in Hanover, New Hampshire a quarter of a century ago remain among our closest--but we’ve decided that we have something like a duty to take the children as well. Why? The children, who range in age from 13 to two, have only the dimmest apprehension that New England even exists. They expect hills to appear brown during the summer, as they are here in California, not green. They’ve never experienced the crack of lightning or the rolling thunder of a summer storm. Rivers? Lakes? They believe fresh water flows only in concrete aqueducts, and they were puzzled when I tried to explain the concept of covered bridges. If only for a couple of weeks, my wife and I decided, the children need to see the East.
Which brings me to the readers of this happy Corner.
Does anyone know of a cottage on one of New Hampshire’s central lakes--Winnipesauke or Squam, perhaps--that would be available at a reasonable cost? For that matter, does anyone have any suggestions at all for keeping children entertained in upper New England? If we can’t find a cottage for a week or ten days, we might roll around New Hampshire and Maine instead, stopping at one place for a couple of days before moving on to the next. But stopping at what places? Splashy resorts are easy to find--they advertise. But to find quiet, rustic places that cater to families, we’ve found, it’s necessary to rely on word of mouth--or, I very much hope, The Corner.
Please put “New England” in your subject line.
Posted at 10:27 AM
RE: ORWELL ON RESPONSIBILITY [John Derbyshire]
Yes, that's how badly I type when I type carefully. Why do you think magazines (though not always on The Corner) employ editors?
Posted at 10:24 AM
PETER JENNINGS, CASTRO TOADY [Tim Graham]
Now here's something for a media critic to complain about. On Friday night, Brent Baker reported that supercilious Peter Jennings saw nothing a bit potentially insincere about another mandatory protest in totalitarian Cuba: "A reminder today of other tension in the world. There was an enormous anti-American demonstration in Cuba today. A couple of hundred thousand people showed up to demonstrate new restrictions imposed by the Bush administration on money transfers and travel to Cuba. The Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, also criticized the war in Iraq and said that President Bush was trying to impose what he, Mr. Castro, called 'world tyranny.'"
How perverse is that? I thought journalists were valiant independents trying not to be "stenographers to power," but Jennings here is nothing but Castro's publicity toady. This is the same fellow-traveler anchorman who ordered then-ABC reporter Peter Collins to take all the critical analysis out and celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Sandinistas. Castro's whole career of crushing the Cuban people has been dedicated to creating world tyranny, starting with Angola and Central America. Just because Fidel's been a tremendous flop at it is no reason to lash out.
Posted at 10:22 AM
RE: DRUNK AND RESISTING THE GUARD [John Derbyshire]
"Dear Mr. Derbyshire---A couple of minor corrections/addendums to your post on The Corner the other day from a 'USMC perspective': NJP or Captain's Mast is an Article 15 hearing, vice Art. 32 (which is akin to a grand jury proceeding done before referring charges to a General Court-Martial).
"Brig time can't be awarded at NJP but restriction can.
"Bread and water is still a permitted punishment (and still awarded) in the Navy."
Posted at 10:20 AM
LAME MEDIA CRIT [Tim Graham]
The Democrats at "Media Matters for America" are criticizing the Washington Post for using the words "shadow Democratic Party" to describe the groups that Harold Ickes and George Soros are running to trash Bush with soft money. Why, Tom Edsall is using a phrase started by the Republicans!
Earth to Media Matters: does the phrase not FIT? Are they not a group of powerful Democrats doing Democratic bidding without being officially connected to the party? Liberal reporters would laugh conservative media critics off the stage for this level of hypersensitivity. This only underlines that Media Matters is not about correcting inaccuracy. There is no plausible charge of inaccuracy in this microscopic complaint. To them, Tom Edsall should be calling these liberal 527s "charities for America's future."
Posted at 10:19 AM
STUPIDITY OF OLYMPIC PROPORTIONS [Michael Graham]
A PR expert hired by the US Olympic Committee is telling our athletes not to wave the American flag to celebrate their gold-medal performances in Greece this summer, because it might offend the sensibilities of other nations.
"What I am telling the athletes is, 'Don't run over and grab a flag and take it round the track with you,'" says former Olympic spokesman Mike Moran. "If a Kenyan or a Russian grabs their national flag and runs round the track or holds it high over their heads, it might not be viewed as confrontational."
Then again, given that the phrase "Greek security" seems to be on par with "media objectivity," our athletes might want to remain in cognito for the entire event.
Posted at 10:17 AM
ORWELL ON RESPONSIBILITY [John Derbyshire]
Much too late in the game, I have finally pulled down my CEJLGO to check the darn thing. Yep, there it is in the essay on Kipling in Vol. 2. I shall type carefully.
"One reason for Kipling's power as a good bad poet I have already suggested -- his sense of responsibility, which made it possible for him to have a world-view, even though it happened to be a false one. Although he had no direct connection with any political party, Kipling was a Conservative, a thing that does not exist nowadays. Those who now call themselves Conservatives are either Liberals, Fascists or the accomplices of Fascists. He identified himself with the ruling power and not with the opposition. In a gifted writer this seems to us strange and even disgusting, but it did have the advantage of giving Kipling a certain grip on reality. The ruling power is always faced with the question, 'In such and such circumstances, what would you *do*?', whereas the opposition is not obliged to take responsibility or make any real decisions. Where it is a permanent and pensioned opposition, as in England, the qulaity of its thought deteriorates accordingly. Moreover, anyone who starts out with a pessimistic, reactionary view of life tends to be justified by events, for Utopia never arrives and 'the gods of the copybook headings', as Kipling himself put it, always return. Kipling sold out to the British governing class, not financially but emotionally. This warped his political judgment, for the British ruling class were not what he imagined, and it led him into abysses of folly and snobbery, but he gained a corresponding advantage from having at least tried to imagine what action and responsibility are like. It is a great thing in his favour that he is not witty, not daring, has no wish to epater les bourgeois. He dealt largely in platitudes, and since we live in a world of platitudes, much of what he said sticks. Even his worst follies seem less shallow and less irritating than the 'enlightened' utterances of the same period, such as Wilde's epigrams or the collection of cracker-mottoes at the ens of *Man and Superman*."
Typing that out, I note a great many points to argue with. Kipling, for example, has never struck me as the least bit snobbish. To be sure, when rich and famous, he hung out mainly with other rich and famous people, but that's what rich and famous people always do. I don't think it counts as snobbery. Nor can I agree that Kipling was not witty or daring. If "The Sergeant's Weddin'" isn't witty ("Grey gun-'orses in the lando / An' a rogue is married to a whore..."), then I don't know any witty poems. As for daring: How many late-Victorian short story writers could sell a tale about venereal disease to the middle classes?
But these points, and many others, are covered in my own essay on Kipling here I come at the man from a quite different angle; and my politics is not as bizarre as Orwell's. He was a revolutionary socialist Tory; I am just a dull old garden-variety Tory.
Posted at 10:13 AM
JUST TO CLARIFY [Jonah Goldberg]
If someone writes a check for the the full fiddy-thou, I will gladly take them out to lunch, dinner whatever. It will be as boozy or as dry as you like, but I promise a good time. My guess is I could convince Derb and a few others to join in too.
However if we raise fiddy-thou today thanks to a tidal wave of small donations, I will not be taking out 1,700 people to lunch.
Posted at 10:09 AM
SERIOUS MONEY [KJL]
We have a goal this year: $50,000. Anyone who wants to take care of that today gets a liquid lunch with Jonah. (Seriously, I've got it in writing from him.)
Posted at 09:58 AM
MY MONEY WHERE MY MOUTH IS [KJL ]
“This email confirms...a Payment for $100.00 USD from Kathryn Jean Lopez (email@example.com)” I just donated $100 to NRO. I really believe in the darn thing, you see. I know you do too.
Posted at 09:29 AM
SNAIL MAIL [KJL]
If you want to donate to NRO the old-fashioned way, dropping a check with the U.S. postal service, send it to me at: Kathryn Jean Lopez
215 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Posted at 09:27 AM
GET READY. GET SET. OPEN YOUR WALLETS! [KJL]
This morning marks the start of our second fundraising drive here at NRO. Bear with us this week, as a variety of political celebs, writers, and many of you, make the case for supporting NRO. NRO is profitable in terms of moving public policy and such, but it’s not a moneymaker. In other words, we’re not asking for you to empty your wallet to make sure I get the gold plating in my executive bathroom. The money you contribute to NRO goes back to you: It will all be spent on making a better product: more writers, more features, more reporting.
You can support NRO financially a few ways. First, a straight donation. To donate via the web, go here. Second, there are two subscription options: 1) Subscribe to NRO Digital. To subscribe to NR Digital, go here. 2) Subscribe to the actual paper edition of National Review. A subscription to the dead-tree edition, on actual dead tree, includes a subscription to the Digital edition of NRODT (in other words, you get it quick and convenient: give it a skim, have access to it as soon as it is available to the world online, then curl up with the longer articles after the mailman delivers). To subscribe to the paper NR, go here.
Thanks for all your support, past, current, and future. Keep reading. Keep finding us useful. Keep sending your suggestions and comments. And, if you can spare a dime—or a few million—you know what to do.
Also, keep watching the homepage this week for cool messages from some of your NRO favs, and many others.
Posted at 09:23 AM
TIM, HERE'S A CLASSIC FOR YOU [Michael Graham]
Today's Washington Post has a 1-A story on former Oregon governor--and confessed child molester--Neil Goldschmidt's sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl while he was mayor of Portland. When I read to the jump and still didn't know Goldschmidt's party affiliation, I immediately deduced he was a Democrat. I was right.
But it's even better. Here's the only ID the Post gives of Goldschmidt's party: "Republicans in the state legislature are demanding that photographs of the former Democratic governor be removed from the capitol."
That's right: The word Democrat doesn't appear until AFTER the word Republican.
Can we all agree that, if Goldschmidt had been a GOP governor, the FIRST three words of the front page article would be "Former Republican governor..."?
Posted at 07:25 AM
NOTE [David Frum]
Hello all--the exigencies of trans-atlantic travel mean that I will not be posting the Diary until about 2 pm. on Monday.
Posted at 06:54 AM
ALEXANDRA KERRY, J-LO WANNABE [KJL]
I refuse to comment. Leaving that to Jonah.
Posted at 05:51 AM
GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOVT WORK [John J. Miller]
62 percent of federal workers received a "merit bonus" or similar cash award in 2002, reports the Washington Post today. The median value was $811.
Posted at 05:33 AM
WHAT THE ENEMY WANTS [KJL]
From the scene of the bombing:
Posted at 05:32 AM
IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL PRESIDENT KILLED [KJL]
in a suicide-bombing attack. At least 10 other Iraqis dead. Izzedine Salim's murder is the second of a Governing Council member.
The terrorists want to kill freedom. They can't win.
Posted at 05:21 AM
ALL HATE WON'T WORK [KJL]
John Fund suggests the Dems might be working on a new strategy to defeat the president they hate.
Posted at 12:43 AM
Sunday, May 16, 2004
RC VOTING GUIDES [Dave Kopel]
Whether or not Bishop Sheridan's edict about the voting duties of Catholics is wise, it is not unprecedented. In July 1949, Pope Pius XII declared that any person who consciously advanced Communism was “without question excommunicated.” The declaration was consistent with the 1937 statement of Pope Pius XI that any form of support for Communism was sinful. Voting for a Communist Party candidate would obviously be a form of conscious support for Communism
Posted at 11:55 PM
ABU GHRAIB EVERYWHERE [Jim Geraghty]
It’s all Iraq troubles, all the time, in the Sunday Washington Post’s non-national-news sections.
On H3 in the Arts section, a debate about monster movies features a picture of the naked pyramid, with the caption, “An image from Abu Ghraib. Hollywood’s attempts at horror pale in comparison.” (Below it, Godzilla.) On C8, in the Metro section in an article about the Blue Angels performing at Andrews Air Force base, the crowd reaction includes, “Like many in the crowd yesterday, the Reeds said they strongly disapproved of the prisoner abuses shown in the photographs from Abu Ghraib.” Discussion of the prison abuse continues for six paragraphs. In section E, Sports, a profile of the Iraqi soccer team that just qualified for the Olympics notes, “For Iraqi players, it was a bittersweet affair. These are not pampered pros cut off from tumultuous events engulfing their country; insurgency in the central and southern parts of the country; an occupation administration that finds it difficult to meet Iraqi expectations; and an uncertain future that haunts Iraqis more than a year after the fall of Saddam Hussein.”
I guess later this week, Hagar the Horrible will refer to it in a punchline and the Horoscope for Aires will warn, “you may find communicating difficult, like those poor naked guys with the hoods on their heads.”
Posted at 09:22 PM
AN ECUMENICAL POSTING [Peter Robinson ]
This from a Catholic:
Paragraph 2181 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:And this from a Lutheran:
I’m about to be placed into the parish ministry, and I’m determined, after 5 years or so in part-time parish experience, to spend the first year or so homiletically concerned with our catechism. For teaching purposes, we divide the christian faith into 6 chief parts: the Ten Commandments, the Our Father, the Apostles’ Creed, The Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and Penance. It seems necessary to do this so that I can figure out what weaknesses and strengths a given parish might have in the Faith.
Posted at 07:45 PM
ORWELL DID SAY IT [Peter Robinson ]
From a reader:
There's a George Orwell site that has Orwell's entire 1942 "Rudyard Kipling" article. The URL for the article is
Posted at 07:29 PM
YES, BUT DID ORWELL SAY IT? [Peter Robinson ]
In “Re: Civilization’s Dirty Work,” below, Derb, you quote a correspondent, who quotes an essay by Richard Grenier, which quotes George Orwell as follows:
The ruling power is always faced with the question 'in such and such circumstances what would you do?' - whereas the opposition is not obliged to take any real decisions. Where it is a permanent and pensioned opposition... the quality of its thought deteriorates accordingly.That is so beautifully put, and so utterly apt, particularly of academic life, that I’d like to tuck it away in my book—well, my Word document—of favorite quotations. But where does the passage come from? Since it represents, so to speak, a quotation inside a quotation, I’d feel leery of using it (and sooner or later I’d be certain to use it) without a citation. Did your correspondent include one? (Can anyone reading this?)
Posted at 05:28 PM
HAM-FISTED COURAGE [KJL]
A friend e-mailed yesterday after RP's post on Sheridan: "THIS is what happens when you don’t teach a darn thing for twenty years—and when you squander moral authority by letting your peers who let priests molest children get away with it. (Isn’t it a shock Cardinal Mahoney is welcoming Kerry with open arms?)" That's exactly the message of all Catholics have learned in the past few years, isn't it: back to basics, all around. Back to teaching the ABCs, so to speak, of theology--in the parochial schools, high schools, colleges, and seminaries. We haven't, and here we are. That said, I'll stick a wee bit with my Sat. knee-jerk reax to B. Sheridan's flawed letter: At least (am I stretching here?) there are bishops who have a sense of where we need to be, and are headed in the right direction. That's a change, for sure. I.e. My heart's not broken by B. Sheridan's letter, Peter--yet.
Posted at 05:17 PM
NOTES ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON [Peter Robinson ]
I rise from my Sunday afternoon nap, I peruse this happy Corner, and I make these notes, one for Derb, two for Tim Graham.
For Derb: “Aren’t I” is neither neither barbarous nor preposterous. (I’m right about this, Kathryn, ain’t I?)
For Tim: a) Bishop Sheridan’s statement strikes me as something close to heart-breaking. How few bishops demonstrate any courage, any courage at all? Now Bishop Sheridan has done so—but in so ham-fisted a manner that he’s less likely to prompt his brother bishops to boldness than to confirm them in their timidity (“There,” they’ll all say to their staffs, “I told you what happens when you speak out on these matters, and now you see I was right”). What’s especially disconcerting is that his statement seemed so thoughtless and uninformed. About two minutes of reflection would have demonstrated to the good bishop that (as Ramesh has pointed out) there are all kinds of circumstances in which Catholics can in good faith vote for politicians who oppose Church teaching. Here in California last autumn, for instance, voters faced the following choices: McClintock, pro-life. Schwarzenegger, pro-choice. Davis, militantly pro-choice. Who can seriously argue that it was sinful to for Catholics to vote for Schwarzenegger? McClintock stood very little chance, and of the two remaining candidates Schwarzenegger was clearly the better.
b) Are you sure that missing mass on Sunday represents a mortal sin? As best I’d ever understood it, the sin here was only venial. Can you—or a reader—provide the relevant citation from the Catechism?
One way or the other, my uncertainty on this proves your point: Lots of Catholics are fuzzy, even—perhaps especially—on the basics.
Posted at 05:12 PM
TREE HOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON [John Derbyshire]
A couple of readers inquired about the knots I am using for all that tree house rope work. I've included a note here
Posted at 03:46 PM
RE: DRUNK AND RESISTING THE GUARD [John Derbyshire]
A USMC perspective on Kipling's defaulter : "The soldier in question, in the Marine Corps, as an E-3 Lance Corporal, would be hauled before Captain's Mast, otherwise known as an Article 32 hearing, and get NJP, or Non-Judicial Punishment. He'd probably get a week's brig time, and maybe bread and water (they used to do that on board ships still, 30 years ago, I don't know about today.) Sentence could be suspended depending on level of contrition. He could also lose some pay and or liberty privileges for an indefinite period. In addition, he would almost certainly be forced to polish several trash cans until they shone."
Posted at 02:32 PM
CARL SAGAN [John Derbyshire]
Apparently Carl Sagan was a closeted homophobe:
"Dear Mr. Derbyshire -- If you were not aware, Carl Sagan -- Yes, the happy, life-affirming, turtle-necked, warm-glow Carl Sagan -- was also mildly & tolerantly homophobic.
"Two biographies on Sagan came out in 1999 and both (though one more than the other) were pained and hurt by some of the comments that would come out of Sagan's mouth. My favorite was that Sagan wasn't convinced that homosexuality was genetic, though if forced to accept that conclusion, he wanted it understood that homosexuality was a genetic deformity. Another was when Sagan discovered that his son was best friends with a homosexual at school - he told his son that it would be wrong to not be friends with the boy just because he's gay, but also wrong not to acknowledge that the boy's sexual preferences were not to be approved. ... Sagan's views on homosexuality left the authors confused because at one moment he would be saying something very homophobic and at the next arguing for the promotion of a gay faculty member, etc. What the authors lacked the imagination to understand is that this is how the mild & tolerant homophobic mind works. So in addition to Cicero, you have Carl Sagan on your side."
Posted at 02:30 PM
YOUNG PATRIOTS [KJL]
You forget--I forget--how young so many of our guys on the frontlines of the war on militant Islam (see Andy McCarthy) are. Here's part of an e-mail from one of my regular correspondents from Baghdad: "Feeling old today. A new guy reported in last night and when I was looking at his record he was born in 1984 - I graduated high school in 1983. He also went on about the last meal he had in the States, when his parents took him to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.... At the end of the inbrief I felt old and hungry and went to bed."
Posted at 02:25 PM
RE: SHERIDAN [Tim Graham]
If I may offer my two cents (well, this may be four cents) on the Bishop of Colorado Springs: politically, it's one thing for the bishops to muster up the courage to proclaim publicly that a Catholic presidential candidate ought to abide by Catholic teachings before receiving the Eucharist. That, spearheaded by my former Bishop of LaCrosse, Raymond Burke, is an admirable stand, even if it should be obvious. Politically, Bishop Sheridan is the one who will really get the ball of outrage going, both inside and outside the Church, by going from the public obligations of Kerry (and a pile of "Catholic" Senators in Kate Michelman's Rolodex) to the private obligations of the average American parishioner.
Ramesh is right that it might be tricky at best for the Church to get down into the legislative weeds of teaching parishioners that they can only take the Eucharist if they voted for politicians who have endorsed the Marilyn Musgrave version of the FMA. Let’s remember that all this is still being debated among the bishops, and is a work in progress. But here’s another area where it’s tricky, if I may speak as a cradle Catholic who grew up in the anything-goes relativism of the 1970s: most Catholics aren’t instructed at the parish-priest level that they should examine their conscience to consider whether they are in a state of grace before receiving communion. Too many Catholics receive the sacrament with all the self-examination it takes to grab a donut after Mass. You go get communion because everybody goes and gets communion. Everybody stands, everybody kneels, everybody older than eight gets the Body of Christ.
Many Catholics, automatically including the large number who pop in on Easter and Christmas and the weekend we visited Mom, are not aware that Church teaching insists that missing weekly Mass is a mortal sin, and that if you miss (unless you were ill), you should go to confession to return to the state of grace before receiving communion again. If you can’t make confession before Mass, you voluntarily forego it. So forget about how you vote on abortion every two or four years. It’s much more controversial for parishioners to be told that the Church teaches that they have to forego Sunday golf games or Saturday night revelry or interrupt out-of-town vacations to attend Mass weekly. So many priests don't exactly harp on it.
I am heartened that church leaders are getting some courage to lead the flock on the life issues, in the small steps and letters we’ve seen so far. But the real workload of the Church is to begin at Square One every year and teach every parishioner and every catechism class the whys of opposing abortion and homosexuality, the whys of opposing artificial contraception, and the whys of weekly Mass attendance. For many people who’ve been faithful Catholics, these questions are still tough to understand or explain without a real interest in theology, and even once they’re understood, they can seem like great sacrifices to practice, a real “alternative lifestyle.” I don't envy church officials who have to lead a flock with a balance of firm teaching and calm understanding, to teach the right path without causing many to leave the path for a more comfortable option.
Posted at 02:18 PM
LOR ON DIRTY WORK [John Derbyshire]
"Mr. Derbyshire---Well, I can give you an authentic, albiet fictional, quote along the same lines. In the 'Fellowship of the Ring book', Aragorn (Stryder) speaks of his somewhat unsavory work as a 'ranger' thus: '"Stryder" I am to one fat man who lives within a day's march of foes who would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so.' And just so you don't get in trouble for quoting something that doesn't exist, it's on page 261 of the latest Haughton Mifflin hardcover edition. I know you're not much of a Rings fan, but I just thought I'd pass it on."
Who said I'm not much of a Rings fan? I was (to borrow a trope from Barbara Mandrell) a Rings fan when being a Rings fan wasn't cool. Long, long before, actually. In my sci-fi phase (early 1960s) I belonged to the Science Fiction Book Club in England, and they offered LOR as an optional selection through Readers' Union, an affiliate club. At that time, LOR was still in its "sleeper" phase, and the publisher was desperate to sell it. I got it, read it, and thought it charming, though I can't recall being either shaken or stirred by it. Later in the 1960s the hippies took up Tolkien and LOR enjoyed its first burst of real popularity, stoned-out flower children staggering around muttering "More like a dream than a waking dream..." (It was this phase that6 inspired the hilarious parody "Bored of the Rings".) Now, 40 years on, I guess I'm just jaded. I do like the movies, though.
Posted at 02:15 PM
IS I IS OR IS I AIN'T GRAMMATICAL? [John Derbyshire]
"Dear Mr. Derbyshire---I suspect you have been over this point many times already so I am sorry to bring it up to you again. In your most recent essay, 'Here to Stay', in which, yet again, you express my own thoughts better than I can, you write, 'Aren't I ashamed of myself?' a verbal 'macro' which expands into the preposterous 'Are I not ashamed of myself?' I think you should have written, 'Ain't I ashamed of myself?' the verbal macro which expands into the sensible 'Am I not ashamed of myself?'"
I thought aren't I? sufficiently well established by now. Neither Fowler nor Follett seem to have anything to say about it, and I took a quick trawl through Jespersen, but his indexing is so crappy you really have to spend time reading through whole articles, which I can't be bothered to do.
Mencken, however, says this: "A shadowy line often separates what is currently coming into sound usage from what is still regarded as barbarous. No American of any pretensions, I assume, would defend ain't as a substitute for isn't, say in 'He ain't the man,' and yet ain't is already tolerably respectable in the first person, where English countenances the even more clumsy aren't. *Aren't* has never got a foorhold in the American first person singular; when it is used at all, which is rarely, it is as a conscious Briticism. Facing the alternative of employing the unwieldy '*Am* I not in this?' the American turns boldly to 'Ain't I in this?' It still grates a bit, perhaps, but aren't grates even more. Here, as always, the popular speech is pulling the exacter speech along, and no one familiar with its successes in the past can have much doubt that it will succeed again, sooner or later."
That was written between 1919 and 1936, though, and my impression is that *aren't* has got wider currency in the USA since then. I wouldn't rule out the possibility that I am guilty of a Briticism, though. You can take the boy out of the Bronx, but you can't take the Bronx out of the boy.
The Columbia guide comes down hard on *ain't* but offers no verdict on aren't. Ain't sounds quaint to my ear -- puts me in mind of Huckleberry Finn; the logical amn't I have never heard; I seem to recall seeing it in old literature, but a scan on the works of Shakespeare turns up no occurrences. I think this is one of those "knots" or "singularities" that occur in every language, where nobody quite know how to say it.
Posted at 02:10 PM
RE: CIVILIZATION'S DIRTY WORK [John Derbyshire]
An illuminating e-mail:
"Mr. Derbyshire---The Orwell quote may have been bogus, but there are many similar quotes specifically regarding Kipling. C.S. Lewis: 'It is a brutal truth about the world that the whole everlasting business of keeping the human race protected and clothed and fed could not go on for twenty-four hours without the vast legion of hard-bitten, technically efficient, not-over-sympathetic men, and without the harsh processes of discipline by which this legion is made. It is a brutal truth that unless a great many people practiced the Kipling ethos there would be neither security nor leisure for any people to practice a finer ethos.'
"One of the best essays on this subject is Richard Grenier's 'The Uniforms That Guard: Kipling, Orwell, and Australia's Breaker Morant'. (The essay is in Grenier's 'Capturing The Culture' - one of the best modern works of film and cultural criticism).
"Particularly relevant to the Iraqi situation is this section by Grenier:
"'Kipling's notorious identification with authority and the ruling power, so distatsteful to later intellectuals, conferred upon him one tremendous advantage, a "sense of responsibilty," which was the secret of his strength and influence. "The ruling power," wrote Orwell, "is always faced with the question 'in such and such circumstances what would you do?' - whereas the opposition is not obliged to take any real decisions. Where it is a permanent and pensioned opposition... the quality of its thought deteriorates accordingly."'"
Posted at 01:59 PM
ST. GIANNA [John J. Miller]
A new saint, for the pro-life movement.
Posted at 01:56 PM
WHAT YOU MISS WHEN YOU MISS MEET THE PRESS [KJL]
Posted at 01:46 PM
WHAT YOU MISS WHEN YOU MISS MEET THE PRESS [KJL]
Posted at 01:46 PM