Saturday, March 04, 2006

Eye on Islamicism

Today we add a link to the Infidel Bloggers Alliance to our blogroll.

Our occasional commenter "Pastorius" is the blogfather of the IBA, an international group of a dozen or so bloggers reporting on jihad around the world, supplying both first-hand accounts and legitimate news items from the overseas media that don't seem to make the American mainstream press.

Most all the bloggers remain anonymous, admittedly out of fear for their own safety and that of their families. That may sound overly cautious, but just today they report that Abdullah Aziz, "Author of the World Renowned Comic Book, 'Mohammed's Believe It or Else!'" has been driven underground by death threats. And of course, there's Theo van Gogh, among others.

I'd been looking for an old quote from our friend and frequent commenter James Elliott, who observed that a difference between the left and right in this country was that the latter perceived militant Islam as a grave and existential threat, where the former saw a managable crisis. I thought that was pretty accurate, but I also notice recent events in Europe may have even those on the left, Mr. Elliott included, becoming more willing to cast a more critical eye on the extent of the problem.

I have no doubt that the IBA will prove to be a valuable window to the world on this issue. They get a little, um, passionate at times, but the vast majority of their sources are solid and easily confirmed elsewhere. We all, myself included, would like to think that bin Laden is just a splashier version of David Koresh, but there may be more to it than that, and we all need to know.

My own thanks and good wishes to Pastorius and the members of the IBA for doing the investigation and inquiry that needs to be done.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The War on Terror and the Cold War

I remember thinking soon after Sept. 11th that the War on Terror (as it was quickly labeled) would probably end up a lot like the Cold War: it would be a long, "twilight" struggle where some portion of the political Left (and Right, for that matter) would tire and seek to have us leave the field of battle before we could win. The thing that I thought would be truly distinctive is that, unlike in the Cold War, the Islamists did not and likely would not possess the capability to (a) destroy us or (b) come to rule us. The "Cartoon Wars" and riots in France have made me rethink this a bit - and not in a good way.

Though it may be hard for some people to remember this, the Soviet Union had a real opportunity in the aftermath of WWII to essentially rule all of Europe. Communist parties were quite strong, especially in Italy and France, and if the US had not been willing to spend money (and do whatever else it did) to make sure those parties did not get a hold of power, things could have gone very poorly for us. It's pretty easy to imagine a those parties (who took their orders from Moscow) ordering American troops out of the continent and doing what their brethren in the east did after 1948.

After a while, of course, the threat of direct Soviet rule lessened (they had enough trouble hanging on to their own satellite countries), but still Moscow tried to intimidate the West into bending its direction, at least to the point where they would be "neutral" (a la, say, Finland). The blockade of Berlin, use of communist unions to stage strategic strikes, funding of terrorist groups (Baadher Meinhof Gang, IRA) and "peace" movements, and so on were all designed to apply subtle (and not so subtle) pressure on western Europe in an effort to divide them from the US and bend them (ever so slightly) to the Soviet will. (There were, of course, genuinely home-grown movements that wanted the same thing).

It strikes me that this is precisely the same sort of thing that is going on now in regards to Europe and the Islamists. They can't rule outright - there aren't enough of them - but they can intimidate European governments and societies enough such that the US has to consider much of Europe simply unreliable when it comes to policy toward the Middle East. I have no doubt that the Europeans definitely do not want Iran to get a nuke (they are, after all, much closer than we are), but if push comes to shove, can the Europeans be depended upon to help with action (i.e. reducing every Iranian military facility to rubble)? If a few enterprising Imams can intimidate most European governments into helpless sputtering on the basis of some unremarkable cartoons, what do you think they'll do when it becomes clear that we're getting ready to take Iran out?

I'm still convinced that the Islamists don't pose the same degree of strategic threat that the Soviets did - they just don't have 2,000 ICBMs. But they can intimidate our allies (and us) enough to make it easier for them to win control of the Islamic countries in the Middle East. And that's a cause for worry.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Strayed From the Heart

Often the great rabbis become so inundated by pilgrims seeking advice and prayers that they must designate a receiving secretary to serve as a buffer and a filter. This creates a potential for abuse, as that control over access can be parlayed into various advantages. Once, the rabbi of Belzyce, Poland, was told by some congregants that his secretary was selling appointments to the highest bidder and pocketing these ill-gotten gains. But the rabbi refused to fire him.

“This much I know,” he explained. “I chose the most honest man in the city. If the job corrupted him, why should I replace him with some other poor fellow and ruin his morals as well?”

No Abramoff apologist I. More than a year ago I administered – in the pages of The American Spectator – a proper scourging. Yet the fact remains that he was not a bad guy who descended upon Washington to game the system and pad his wallet. He came with a heart brimful with good intentions that eventually paved the road to brimstone. As a leader of the national College Republicans while at Brandeis, he was imbued with the Reaganite spirit. He entered D.C. to help steward “The Contraction With America”, the effort to put Boss Tweed on a diet, to shrink bloated government. How did all that good will come undone?

And, as a corollary, is it unavoidable? Is the corruption so pervasive as to be insuperable? Inevitable, ineluctable, ineludible and inexorable? Is it impossible to be a lobbyist without dirtying your hands?

The answer must be no. And yes. No, it is not necessary to be crooked. Yes, it is possible to lobby honestly and be effective. Why, then, are many good people tempted into going by the book – without giving it a second glance?

There are motives of expediency, to be sure. It is easier to catch a Congressman’s attention if you’re dropping campaign dollars into his hat. And what better way to get someone’s ear than getting some air with him on a long lazy “fact-finding” trip to Maui?

Still, that is not a sufficient lure to make a man lose his religion. My theory is that the most powerful force that moves a person off the perch of virtue is a pernicious cocktail of social pressure by the bad guys and cynicism by the good folks.

Here’s how it works. Say you come to Washington as a lobbyist for a company or a cause that is dear to your heart, and naturally you have a big expense account to facilitate your work. Or say you come to Hollywood to produce a movie about some matter of injustice that is searing into your soul, and you bring a big bankroll to make it happen. You determine that you are not going to succumb to the temptation of turning your money into illicit favors of any sort.

When you arrive, you find that the predators who predated you there, the abusers whom you are committed to abjure, seem like very swell guys. They greet you with open arms, eager to show you the ropes… or rope you into the show. The message becomes very clear very soon: play by our rules and you’re welcome. Try to go it on your own, buddy, and you’re on your own, buddy.

It is in the nature of people who are in the wrong to seduce you into their midst even if you offer them no direct advantage. The presence of virtue causes them discomfort. The film Serpico was based on a true story, but many other films like Midnight Run and Vanishing Point have described the same scenario; the honest cop who won’t take a piece of the graft money and is shunned by his brethren in blue.

This forced choice between group acceptance and righteous isolation is a powerful trap for a man. King David begins his Psalms with this message, perhaps to offer solace in poetry to the person faced with that fork in the road: “Fortunate is the man who did not go with the counsel of the wicked, did not stand on the path of the sinners nor sat in the sessions of the mockers.”

But an awful contributing factor is when the solid people are cynical. Bonnie Raitt’s song, Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About, brilliantly highlighted this phenomenon. She describes how a rumor of an affair that wasn’t happening actually caused the affair to happen. Once all the coworkers believed that these two people were getting together, it seemed pointless to stay apart. In like fashion, if everyone winks at you when you say you’re a lobbyist, assuming nefarious monkeyshines, or elbows you in the ribs when you say you’re a producer, anticipating licentious adventures, they unwittingly erode your defenses against impropriety.

Ironically, by not thinking the worst of humanity we can sometimes help to bring out the best.

Charlie Rose, but I Sank

Thinking perhaps to expand my horizons by introducing myself to pulse-quickening liberal themes and personalities, I tuned into Charlie Rose. He was leaning forward in his chair, breathless with excitement, "So then you were just a student at Stamford... and what happened next?"

I'm figuring wow this guy must be some really famous major entrepreneur with a Bill Gates-like epiphany story wherein his drab collegiate days at Stamford were transformed into a life throbbing with high drama as...

...the camera pans to the guest, sitting ever so smugly, with the pleased smile of a cat who has licked clean the cream wrapped around Hercule Poirot 'moustaches' and the SNL Church-lady's pursed lips. The caption reads "Azim Premji, President of WIPRO".

My mind is now racing at 90 mph: "What kind of political commentator am I, who has never heard of Azim Premji and so unlettered that WIPRO strikes me as gibberish?"

Suddenly I'm flashing back 35 years, I'm 12 years old listening to the Jean Shepherd Show on WOR 710-AM in New York City. I'm remembering how he would salute all the self-important ponces who live on the fringe of the political world, crying "Look at me".

So I'm taking out the kazoo and the Jew's-harp; here goes the Shepherd treatment:

"Bzhzh, bzhzh, I salute you, Azim Premji. Bvvvv, bvvvv, we salute you, WIPRO. Bzhzh, bzhzh, bvvvv, bvvvv, bring us world peace, bzhbzh bzhzh."

Universal, State-Provided Pre-K—Pah!

The discussion of my post on how California's high tax rates and regulatory mania are chasing the best and brightest out of the state has evolved into a fascinatingly fatuous debate over whether it makes sense for the government to pay for preschool for all children. Matt Huisman's astute criticism of the "logic" (and it really does need quotation marks in this case) behind this proposal reminds me of a phrase I've written before and think worth reviving here:

The American K-12 education system is so bad that every effort to fix it only manages to make it worse.

As Matt's comment makes clear, the movement for universal, state-provided pre-K is another evidence of the truth of this principle.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The BMW Report: The Permanent Campaign vs. The Loyal Opposition

"The Permanent Campaign" is thought of as a Dick Morris notion, and he certainly believed in it, that the president always be out among the people, selling his agenda. Dick Morris likes polls. He even polled on when the president should take a vacation.

So, it's no surprise that it was (unappreciated genius) Democrat pollster Pat Caddell who came up with the idea, and sent it to Jimmy Carter just before his inauguration in 1977:

"The old cliche about mistaking style for substance usually works the reverse in politics. Too many good people have been defeated because they tried to substitute substance for style; they forgot to give the public the kind of visible signals that it needs to understand what is happening...Essentially, it is my thesis governing with public approval requires a continuing political campaign."

There's a certain virtue to the permanent campaign, keeping Americans on the same page and from each other's throats, not entirely different from FDR's unifying fireside chats. Although it didn't help the dour Carter, whose temperament was as ill-fitted to the role as his dopey sweaters during the energy crisis, the permanent campaign was tailor-made for Bill Clinton's personality: it was said that if there was one person in a roomful of supporters who didn't dig Clinton's act, Clinton would spend the entire evening getting him or her to come around. The permanent campaign probably saved Clinton from the Hounds of Impeachment.

Indeed, the permanent campaigner Bill Clinton had won the presidency largely because a reasonably good fellow and president, George HW Bush, after a creditable stewardship in the job, rather saw campaigning even during an actual election campaign as demeaning to his record.

Enter George Dubya Bush, whose worthy political skills lay somewhere between style and substance. It can scarcely be denied that, for good or ill, he brings more substance to the job than either of his predecessors, and enough attention to campaigning to get elected twice (which his father failed to do), although not enough permanent campaigning to keep us from each other's throats, as Clinton in fact did:

Although there was quite a bit of anti-Clinton vociferousness from the GOP side, the polls did not support his removal from office over his technically grave but ultimately harmless violations of the law. And so, the "loyal opposition," the GOP-controlled Senate and specifically John McCain and Bob Dole, put the fix in and kept the impeachment trial down to a bare minimum and a dull roar. They let Mr. Clinton skate, and that was a good thing.

Subsequently, McCain and Dole got Clinton's back on his Kosovo adventure and whipped their party into line once we had troops committed. That's how a loyal opposition functions.

Fast forward. Not that I'm a fan across the board of John Zogby, but it seems reasonable that his latest poll reflects the truth about our current state of the union:

The survey also contained troubling news for Democrats. While high-profile Democrats in Washington, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, spar with GOP adversaries, 58% of self-described Democrats said they think their leaders should “accept their lower position in Congress and work together with Republicans to craft the best legislation possible.”


With only 6% saying Democrats should fight the GOP congress tooth and nail. (And that's just Democrats who were polled.)


So, at one of the more dangerous crossroads of our history, a president who mostly doesn't give a hang about convincing the American people of the rightness of our course as a nation, and an opposition that mostly doesn't give a hang about working for the betterment of the country if it will cost them partisan advantage.

We no longer have the permanent campaign, nor a loyal opposition. The 90s were the good old days in their way, and now they're gone, leaving the American public to BMW: Bitch, Moan, Whine. That's the way it is on this, the first of March, 2006.

Taxing Californians Out

The great state of California has long been known as a land of opportunity—but also as the corner of the country to which all the sleaziness, greed, and stupidity of the nation eventually slide. Politically, it has been exactly that for about the past two decades.

As the Opinion Journal notes in an editorial in today's edition, California pols have done their level best to destroy the state's economy by abusing everyone who actually succeeds in fulfilling the economic promise laid down by the state in years past, in an endless stream of harassment done in the name of fairness, equality, economic justice, and other fine things. As the Journal editorial notes, the consequences of California's high and ever-increasing taxes and strangling regulatory apparatus are resulting in a turnaround of immigration patterns:

The latest Census Bureau data indicate that, in 2005, 239,416 more native-born Americans left the state than moved in. California is also on pace to lose domestic population (not counting immigrants) this year. The outmigration is such that the cost to rent a U-Haul trailer to move from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho, is $2,090--or some eight times more than the cost of moving in the opposite direction.

What's gone wrong? A big part of the story is a tax and regulatory culture that treats the most productive businesses and workers as if they were ATMs. The cost to businesses of complying with California's rules, regulations and paperwork is more than twice as high as in other Western states.

But the worst growth killer may well be California's tax system. The business tax rate of 8.8% is the highest in the West, and its steeply "progressive" personal income tax has an effective top marginal rate of 10.3%, or second highest in the nation. CalTax, the state's taxpayer advocacy group, reports that the richest 10% of earners pay almost 75% of the entire income-tax revenue in the state, and most of these are small-business owners, i.e., the people who create jobs.

Of course, some will argue that this reversal of immigration is a good thing, as it will reduce overpopulation, etc., and reduce pressure on the state's resources. But Hongkong and Amsterdam are much more crowded than any part of California, and have almost no natural resources, yet they do just fine. No, regardless of any small good that may come of it, this demonstrates a huge and preventable failure on the part of the leadership of the state of California—and a stern warning to others.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Seek Rat, Smell Rat

Although the proximate stimulus for this article was the Dubai port situation, I speak about the general role of secrets in contemporary governance and the larger issue of how tolerant we should be of Presidential taciturnity.

As in:

In World War II, it is only a small exaggeration to say that the fate of the world hung on secret activities. Would our secret atom bomb program be completed before the German equivalent? And could it be kept secret from the Soviets? Would our cryptographers succeed in breaking the secret codes that the enemy used to issue military instructions over their radios? Later, when we did break the code, everything depended on keeping the enemy unsuspecting. We managed to fool them and they did not switch codes, gaining us an untold advantage.

With secrecy at such a premium, we learned to be satisfied knowing less. In return, public servants were more conscientious about earning our trust. For the most part, whenever we discover today the filed-away secrets of yesterday, we find that our leaders of then acted upon them wisely. Those days are long gone. Nixon's perfidy and Carter's incompetence, Reagan's occasional distractedness and Clinton's pathological duplicity, have all taught us to regard their caveats as emptier than their predecessors. Nine times out of ten, daylight is better. And the secrets tend not to be so darned big anyway.

Iran's Nuclear Weapon and What To Do About It

Recently Ahmadinejad, Iran’s outspoken leader, said, “Life is shaped by art and the highest form of art is martyrdom.” This is the statement of a man possessed. If taken along with his Holocaust denial claims and threats to wipe Israel off the map, this is a person who at the very least cannot be trusted.

It is therefore critical that he is denied the nuclear weapons he craves. His uranium enrichment program is well on the way to conclusion and in months, perhaps a year, Iran will be in possession of the knowledge necessary to produce a nuclear weapon.

The central question that must be considered is whether he can be stopped and whether the West has the will to do it.

President George W. Bush has made it abundantly clear that he will not tolerate a nuclear bomb in Iran. Yet even a determined president has limitations. Can the Air Force destroy the Iran facilities? Will there be retaliation? How will the Muslim world react to such an action? And will there be collateral damage that unites Iran and makes it an even more formidable threat than is the case at the moment?

As I see it the “cascading effect” needed to produce high grade uranium is probably in one major site even though ancillary activities may be dispersed. Therefore sortees carefully directed using bunker buster bombs could probably do the job against a reinforced underground facility.

While the Iranians have missiles that can reach Tel Aviv, they probably don’t have nuclear weapons yet. Therefore, they might deploy missiles tipped with chemical and biological weapons. While the prospect of such deployment is horrible to imagine, these weapons are unreliable. On the conventional front Iran is simply no match for Israeli forces much less U.S. military operations.

Although it is impossible to determine how the Muslim world will respond to such an attack, it is noteworthy that the much vaunted Arab street did not rise in unity against the liberation of Iraq and one might reasonably expect that will be the case in an attack on Iran.

Collateral damage is always a possibility even in the age of smart bombs. But the targets are limited and the precision bombs are increasingly more refined and accurate. Therefore it is probable that casualties will be limited. In fact, rather than unify Iran, such destruction of the nuclear facility might be the occasion for dissident groups to rise up against the ruling mullahs.

Recently there has been a lot of chatter about funding for public diplomacy that might encourage regime change. On this score, I remain skeptical. There have been many opportunities for rebellion against the repressive regime, but thusfar the secret police have been able to control the outbursts.

While regime change would be a desirable outcome, and a measure worth trying, we are running out of time. The clock is ticking on the prospective acquisition of a nuclear weapon. I would make the same claim about the European initiative to halt the Iranian program. Thusfar, the negotiations have merely served as a cover for the continued development of the program. Of course this diplomatic exercise is a necessary prerequisite for consensus on military action.

Security Council resolutions that lead to an embargo might be effective if the embargo on oil holds and if this isn’t interpreted by Iranian leaders as an act of war. Of course, getting unanimity in the Security Council is a long shot with the Russians poised to veto an embargo and China, sitting on the sidelines, bemused by the prospect of the U.S. groveling for support.

Any way you cut it, military force seems like the most likely stratagem for success. Will Bush do it? As I see it, he cannot afford not to do it. His legacy cannot be a nuclear armed Iran prepared to destabilize all of the Middle East and possibly Europe.

This is yet another test of American will. While the Democrats, in large part, will criticize the decision, there is little doubt the American people will support the president especially if he runs out the string on other options and points out that force is the only realistic alternative.

Herbert London is president of Hudson Institute and professor emeritus of New York University. He is the author of Decade of Denial (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001). London maintains a website, www.herblondon.org.

Faith and Learning

Sorry to be silent for so long, but I've been traveling a great deal. I just thought I'd note for those interested that if you're a student and thinking about grad school and interested in studying religion's intersection with just about anything, you should look seriously at Notre Dame. The history department just hired Mark Noll away from Wheaton and now the sociology department has hired Christian Smith away from UNC. So you have probably the best historian of American evangelicals (and probably the best historian of American Catholics in John McGreevy) and the best young sociologist of religion, some outstanding political scientists, great law faculty, and very good philosophers to work with. Just a thought...

Monday, February 27, 2006

Dog Days

The Disney live-action sled dog adventure 8 Below was the top grossing film the weekend it opened, and it is still sitting number two, having made over $45 million in two weeks. Meanwhile, John Grogan's tale of his yellow lab with a brain of cast iron but a heart of gold is #1 on Amazon, heads the NYT hardcover nonfiction list, has sold nearly a million copies, and the film rights have just been bought by Fox 2000.

I saw 8 Below last night with my husband and eleven-year-old daughter. If anyone is reluctant to see the movie because they are disgusted with the descent of Disney into previously uncharted regions of stupidity and bad taste, consider giving this one a try anyway. 8 Below is not great cinema, but it is something just as rare: a movie one can enjoy, without embarassment and without boredom, in the presence of one's children. The action, characterization, and plot are straightforward but believable; the cinematography is gorgeous, and the animals are memorable and engaging.

Maya, Star of 8 Below
Surprisingly, the eight dogs are not overly anthropomorphized cartoons. With one exception, none of the dogs does anything I have not seen echoed in my own Siberian. I don't believe female huskies have the ability to coordinate six males, via short barks and apparent telepathy, to execute a cunning plan to capture seabirds -- with the subtlety of Navy Seals taking an enemy outpost on a moonless night -- but other than that every action is pack behavior familiar to anyone who's ever owned a working dog.

[Spoilers below]

The story is simple, and simply told: as the result of natural forces beyond anyone’s control, Jerry Shepherd, a guide employed by the National Science Foundation Antarctic Research Station, is forced to leave behind his team of eight sled dogs when the station is evacuated. It is impossible to travel to the continent until the following Southern hemisphere summer, and he returns to the States unable to shake off his sense of responsibility for abandoning his dogs. Everyone tells him it is not his fault, he should “let himself off the hook” and forgive himself, but he can’t. Juxtaposed against Jerry's efforts to first forget and then rejoin his pack, are scenes of the dogs' struggles to survive on their own, from the aforementioned seabirds escapade to raiding the Russian station's pantry. Eventually Jerry's stubborn devotion to his dogs snares three others, who were on the station when the disaster happened, into assisting him in gaining the continent to either rescue the team or face the reality of their deaths.

(An aside: to a former NSF staffer, the idea of using an unreconciled surplus in a research grant account as deus ex machina is pretty, well....imaginative.)

Kisa and Anne, stars of Two SidewaysI have not read Marley and Me, but I predict that before long this book will have sold 25 million copies. After all, there are 50 million dog-owning households in the US, and at least half of them will be curious about the intriguing, if improbable, notion that the World’s Worst Dog is not the one sitting on the professionally-clean-only sofa in the next room gutting a hand embroidered silk throw pillow or tearing the cap off a bottle of truffle oil.

Jeeves at Blenheim
In my house The World’s Worst Dog is named Jeeves, he’s a saluki, he crossed my threshold in September 1996, and whatever Marley might have done in his thirteen years, Jeeves has done him one better. The dog has eaten through plaster walls, air conditioners, feather beds, and seat belts. He has stolen and devoured enough meat, bread, chocolate, honey, and peanut butter to eradicate starvation in a smallish African country. He barks at my daughter’s little girlfriends just because it frightens them, and pees on the floor whenever he feels like it. He has awakened me every night for nine years so I can move over and let him get under the covers.

And if he were abandoned and lost somewhere, I would move heaven and earth to get him back, for the same reason that motivates the fictional Jerry Shepherd to cadge a helicopter, ice breaker, Italian Snow Cat and the services of three other science professionals to go after eight dogs that are probably dead anyway. And it's not sentimentality, misplaced anthropomorphism, or the overrefined sensitivity of wealthy, coddled people who have the luxury of treating their pets as if they were children. It is because Jeeves and I, like Jerry and his sled team, have forged a bond based on the pursuit of a common objective. The very qualities that make Jeeves annoying -- his barking, his suspicious reserve with strangers, his hyperactive scanning of the horizon for any perceived threat, from a squirrel to a serial killer -- make him a trusted aide for a woman who spends hours alone each day in an isolated house.

This is not a strict utilitarianism. It is, rather, more like the ties that used to bind families together, in the days when households were centers of independent economic activity, instead of places to sit in separate rooms wired to separate pieces of electronic gear to blow off the stresses of living parallel but separate lives in the global economy. How much of the alienation wives feel from their husbands and vice versa, how many arguments over work schedules, money, child rearing responsibilites, are caused by an economy that pits spouses at odds against each other, instead of harnessing them together like a sled team? I don't know, but I haven't had an argument with either one of my dogs in ages.

Much Ado About Con-Cons

Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning-News has developed a sideline as the promoter of "crunchy conservatism." This mainly involves the old Southern agrarianism except that we get rid of some of the unpleasant social hierarchism that was packaged in that old deal.

The bottom line on crunchy-con is that it is a trendy sensibility with a Catholic edge. Not Kroger -- Whole Foods. Not Milton Friedman -- G.K. Chesterton. Bye-bye Hummer -- Hello Toyota Hybrid. You get the idea. It's the whole earth mother thing if it had developed a stronger conservative element.

Though I may write with an edge of skepticism, I think crunchy con is a good thing. Not everybody is cut out for the bland navy sport coat-red tie world of the eighties GOP brought to maturity by Reagan. This group expands the tent and provides a firmer link to Christian thought in politics.

National Review has gone a little crazy with blogs. I can remember when I was excited to read the online version every day because of the great articles. The prepared content has suffered neglect as the blogs have become more and more prominent on the magazine's website. Unsurprisingly, Crunchy Conservatism (which originated with Dreher at NRO) now joins the legions as a featured blog at NRO. For a post from that blog that captures the ambiguous spirit of the enterprise (crunchy con, not blogging), I recommend this one from Ross Douthat.

In any case, it will be interesting to observe whether Dreher has really put his finger on a going concern. We've always known Christian conservatives didn't boil down to a composite of the viewers of the 700 Club. Crunchy cons may help fill out the picture.

Trying to Fuss

A new Dreyfus affair seems possible, this time featuring Richard Dreyfuss as the prosecutor. He publicly orated and opined that President Bush should be impeached.

Now have a look at Dreyfus the defendant and Dreyfuss the plaintiff.

Separated at birth?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Times Were Verse

Just ran across this quatrain that I scribbled in 1997 to recite at the funeral of a relative who was an Air Force navigator, flying in bombing raids over Germany in WWII. It was an amazing feeling to read this to a hundred or so mourners before a flag-draped coffin.

Off to defend brothers with love
I flew missions in German air
Looked up, saw Heaven just above
But beneath me, Hell was there.