Archives for April, 2007

Movie Review: Last King of Scotland

Thumbs up. I’ve been a Forrest Whitaker fan ever since Fast Times, and he deserved the Oscar. His performance was pretty well summed up in the line given to young Dr. Garrigan: “you’re a child. That’s what makes you so f***ing scary.”

And I guess gore hasn’t lost its capacity to shock. The desecration of Kay Amin’s body was a scene from hell. Though come to think of it, it wasn’t particularly gory–just grotesque, tapping into a primal sense of blasphemy. I don’t want to see it again.

By some accounts, though, the film went light on the grotesqueries:

“It was discovered,’ writes Johnson, “that he had murdered Pokot tribesmen and left them to be eaten by hyenas, got information from Karamajog tribesmen by threatening to cut off their penises with a panga, and had actually sliced off the genitals of eight of them to obtain confessions,’ All of this and much more the British knew, but were reluctant to prosecute on the eve of independence for Uganda, so they referred the case to prime minister-designate Milton Obote. “Obote settled for a “severe reprimand,’ a curious punishment for mass murder.’

Some time later, Qaddafi egged Amin on to oust Obote, because he had a few Israeli advisors about. Amin then began massacre on a he-man scale. “Amin often participated in atrocities, sometimes of a private nature. Kyemba’s wife Teresa, matron-in-charge of Mulago Hospital, was present when the fragmented body of Amin’s wife Kay was brought in: Amin appears not only to have murdered but dismembered her, for he kept collections of plates from anatomical manuals. He is also said to have killed his son and eaten his heart, as advised by a witch-doctor he flew in from Stanleyville. There can be little doubt he was a ritual cannibal, keeping selected organs in his refrigerator.’

However, I have a low tolerance for historical dramas that make things up. And the composite character of Dr. Garrigan irked me, even though James McAvoy was excellent in the role. By the end when SPOILER ALERT

Continue reading this post »

Posted on Apr 28, 2007 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

So How Does This End?

…Carmela asks Tony in Season One. He replies (paraphrasing from memory) that he’ll be dead, in prison, or in witness protection selling lawn furniture on the interstate. I used to think differently, but right now, my guess is, none of the above.

I don’t foresee a King Lear-style bloodbath ending, or even Tony getting clipped. Chase has said he wants to avoid the morality-tale wrap-up you’ve gotten in many classic gangster movies from Edward G. Robinson and Jimmy Cagney on. Hard to avoid the “just desserts” implication if you kill Tony or lock him up.

Here’s what I think–and sort of hope–will happen: nothing. The show will end, in the sense that we’ll no longer be a part of these peoples’ lives, but their lives will go on, much as they did before. No lessons learned, no redemption for the sinners, no punishment for the wicked, no reward for the just (who would that be anyway on the show?)

Think back to Season One, episode 8, “The Legend of Tennesse Moltisanti.” The focus is on Christopher, aspiring wiseguy, aspiring movie mogul, and depressive mess.

Christopher: You ever feel like nothing good was ever gonna happen to you?

Paulie: Yeah, and nothing did, so what? I’m alive, I’m surviving.

C: That’s it. I don’t want to just survive. Says in these movie writing books that every character has an arc, you understand? Everybody starts out somewheres, then they do something or something gets done to them that changes their life. That’s called their arc. Where’s my arc? …

P:…. Hey, I got no arc either. I was born, grew up, spent a few years in the army, few more in the can, and here I am, a half a wiseguy. So what?

One of the emerging themes of the Sopranos is that people are what they are. They don’t change. Like the scorpion says to the frog in the story that Tony tells to Artie after taking advantage of him to get a piece of Vesuvio in Season Four: “It’s my nature.” Again and again on the show, like the dog to his vomit, people return to their essential nature. It’s the Godfather line that Silvio’s so fond of, except it ought to be recast as “every time I try to get out, I pull me back in.”

It’s a bleak view of human potential–bleaker than reality. But perhaps closer to reality than most arc-driven drama. Just as in life, many plot threads are never resolved–Russian commandos that never show up to take revenge–many (most?) people do not have arcs. They don’t necessarily learn, grow, and change–or, in the alternative, suffer the consequences–before the credits roll. They just do what they do.

This is a theme that may have emerged by accident–Chase didn’t know at the start how long the show was going to go on, and the writers have made it up as they’ve gone along. It’s hard to build “arc” into a show that ends up being close to 100 hours long. But arclessness has become key to the integrity of the show. Tying it up in a bow would at this point I think violate what’s come before.

Of course, just ending the thing in mid-paragraph–say, with Tony walking back up his driveway with the Star-Ledger, nothing important in the headlines–would enrage most of the fan base, and poison a lot of people’s memories of the show. Even so, I think it would be cool. I hope Chase has enough Howard Roark in him to do it.

Posted on Apr 27, 2007 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Progress Narrative

Julian’s post, wondering how people got things done before the information age, reminds me that a few weeks ago I watched All the President’s Men for the first time in, well, since before the information age. And it is almost impossible for a 21st century American to focus on Watergate, especially if said American works in an office and does an information-related job. Hard to imagine that if you needed information on E. Howard Hunt, you needed to ask an actual human being to go down to something called a “morgue” and get some clippings for you. It’s a different world.

That and the smoking. Though Bernstein has become the John Oates to Woodward’s Darryl Hall, Hoffman leaves you with a cooler impression of him in the movie. Especially when Redford and Hoffman are in the elevator and Hoffman lights up. Redford: “Is there anywhere you don’t smoke?”

Posted on Apr 24, 2007 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Word of the Day


…inspired by this excellent use of the word over at Sadly, No! in the course of ridiculing Michelle Malkin:

This is a wondrous example of Malkin’s suzerainty over language. ‘To hound’ and ‘to target’ shall today mean, ‘to write a story about someone using publicly-available information.’

This post is really just an excuse to quote from my favorite novel , Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. Picture a bunch of “outlaws and scalp-hunters who cleared Indians from the Texas-Mexico borderlands during the late 1840’s under contract to territorial governors.” They’re sitting around a campfire, listening to “the haunting and terrifying Judge,” who for Harold Bloom seems to signify “the prophet of War Everlasting.” Haunting and terrifying, yeah, but he’s also funny as hell. (Vocab-word bolds are mine)::

The judge wrote on and then he folded the ledger shut and laid it to one side and pressed his hands together and passed them down over his nose and mouth and placed them palm down on his knees.

Whatever exists, he said. Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.

He looked about at the dark forest in which they were bivouacked. He nodded toward the specimens he’d collected. These anonymous creatures, he said, may seem little or nothing in the world. Yet the smallest crumb can devour us. Any smallest thing beneath yon rock out of men’s knowing. Only nature can enslave man and only when the existence of each last entity is routed out and made to stand naked before him will he be properly suzerain of the earth.

What’s a suzerain?

A keeper. A keeper or overlord.

Why not say keeper then?

Because he is a special kind of keeper. A suzerain rules even where there are other rulers. His authority countermands local judgments.

Toadvine spat.

The judge placed his hands on the ground. He looked at his inquisitor. This is my claim, he said. And yet everywhere upon it are pockets of autonomous life. Autonomous. In order for it to be mine nothing must be permitted to occur upon it save by my dispensation.

Toadvine sat with his boots crossed before the fire. No man can acquaint himself with everyting on this earth, he said.

The judge tilted his great head. The man who believes the secrets of the world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But that man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will by the decision alone have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to dictate the terms of his own fate.

I dont see what that has to do with catchin birds.

The freedom of birds is an insult to me. I’d have them all in zoos.

That would be a hell of a zoo.

The judge smiled. Yes, he said. Even so.

Posted on Apr 19, 2007 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

“Consoler in Chief”

I suppose you have to be weird to find anything untoward in this, but as this blog has by now amply established, I am weird, especially when it comes to questions surrounding Americans’ expectations for the presidency. Grieving is healthy, but it is not healthy for mainstream elites to talk about the presidency in this way:

“In the television age, there are only so many voices you can hear, and the president has the megaphone,” said David Gergen, who served as an adviser to four presidents. “At times like this, he takes off his cap as commander in chief and puts on the robes of consoler in chief.”

“It’s important for the country to see the one person they decided on as a leader out front and speaking for them in moments like this,” said Joe Lockhart, who served as press secretary for President Bill Clinton.

Leon Panetta, Clinton’s chief of staff, agreed: “In many ways, he is our national chaplain.”

I certainly don’t blame Bush for visiting VA Tech the day after the shootings. It’s what he was expected to do, like it or not. And in this case, some will find it helpful, and for the rest of the country, it’s likely harmless: nothing that comes out of his visit is likely to affect any American’s liberty interests. But in a larger sense, the expectation that there ought to be a presidential response to any highly visible public event has had a dramatic impact on American liberty over the course of the 20th century and into the 21st.

Here’s an interesting piece from Slate on the Great Coolidge’s resistance to responding to the Mississippi Flood of 1927:

Governors, senators, and mayors asked him to visit the flood zone. “Your coming would center eyes of nation and the consequent publicity would result in securing millions of dollars additional aid for sufferers,” the governor of Mississippi wired. But Coolidge demurred. He declined requests from NBC to broadcast a nationwide radio appeal, and from humorist Will Rogers to send a telegram to be read at a benefit. Taking center stage, Coolidge feared, would feed demands for a greater federal role in dealing with the calamity.

Keeping cool like Coolidge was no longer possible by midcentury. In 1956, political scientist Clinton Rossiter wrote approvingly that faced with “floods in New England or a tornado in Missouri or a railroad strike in Chicago or a panic in Wall Street… the people turn almost instinctively to the White House and its occupant for aid and comfort.”

It’s that reflex that makes the solutions to highly visible news events increasingly federal, increasingly presidential, and, in some cases, increasingly military. There’s something to be said for Silent Cal’s Waspy reticence.

Posted on Apr 19, 2007 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Quote of the Day

“When Dr. Johnson defined patriotism as the last refuge of a scoundrel, he ignored the enormous possibilities of the word reform.”

–Senator Roscoe Conkling (R.-NY) 1876

The last few years provide more evidence for Johnson’s view, but still, Conkling had a point. As a Republican “Stalwart,” politics was, for him, largely about giving jobs to your buddies. Politics can be about worse things. Some years ago, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed called “In Defense of Marion Barry,” where the writer stood up for the corrupt machine politician, pointing out (if I remember correctly) that the Progressives had “cleaned up” politics, reducing wealth transfer on a small scale–a.k.a. “corruption.” They also paved the way for wealth transfer on a large scale by reorienting government to much more ambitious goals. Living in D.C., I can say that Barry’s not the best example to lead with (though you can’t deny the man has his charms) but the general point holds. Investing government with an aura of nobility may have led to the odd situation where getting your girlfriend a fat salary increase is widely viewed as a bigger offense than serving as the architect of a crackbrained, disastrous war.

Posted on Apr 17, 2007 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Keeping Cool, Right and Left

I thought it was too soon to make any policy-related points about the horrific VA Tech massacre, but apparently it’s not, so I will. And should anybody who knew and loved any of the victims stumble across this post (it happens in the age of Google), I apologize for talking about it in necessarily abstract terms. No offense is intended.

Here’s Instapundit, actually making sense:

HOW COMMON ARE MASS SHOOTINGS AT U.S. SCHOOLS? Not very. And they don’t appear to be getting any more common, though 24/7 cable news coverage may give that impression. Ilya Somin writes: “The extreme rarity of such incidents should be kept in mind as we decide what, if any, policy changes should be made in response to the Virginia Tech tragedy. Some changes may well be warranted, but we should guard against costly overreactions such as the draconian ‘zero tolerance’ policies implemented in many schools after the Columbine attacks in 1999. As a professor in the Virginia state university system (of which Virginia Tech is a part), I hope we can resist the temptation to enact similar measures.”


even if one thinks that either gun control or gun decontrol would have helped in this instance, we shouldn’t make broad gun policy based on these highly unusual incidents — which, tragic as they are, represent a tiny and extraordinarily unrepresentative fraction of all the homicide that’s out there.

And over at National Review Online, Eli Lehrer also makes the sensible point that, given the rarity of such events and the relative safety of VA Tech’s campus, the toll of one horrible day should not be used to argue for comprehensive new federal policies.

When it comes to school shootings, rightwingers keep their heads and avoid falling victim to the availability heuristic. They recognize that we should not adopt broad legal changes based on low-risk events–however heart-wrenching and awful.

Why doesn’t the same logic apply to the risk of international terrorism? After all, on average, far more Americans drown in bathtubs every year than die in terrorist attacks on the home front. Yet on the Right, we often see the threat of terrorism used to argue for quite drastic policy responses that require enormous sacrifices in blood and treasure from Americans (to say nothing of the foreign victims of American ordnance) and calls to fundamentally rethink the American legal order. Arguments that the terrorist threat has been overblown are dismissed out of hand.

I suppose you could argue that the threat of “WMD” fundamentally changes the calculus. I haven’t seen any compelling evidence for that, or for the use of the term “WMD” to apply to anything other than nukes or certain biological agents–neither of which terrorists are likely to have access to. Moreover, the recent attempts to label nitric acid and chlorine “WMD” shows the uselessness of the concept and/or the increasing desperation of GWOT hawks.

I’ll grant that the future risk of terrorism is more uncertain than the background risk of school shootings. For that reason, I think the risk of terrorism requires a more vigorous policy response than does the risk of school shootings. But it’s possible–indeed, likely–that the number of psychotic and potentially murderous young people in the United States with easy access to weapons is much greater than the number of active jihadists in America who have access to weapons or other deadly technology. And the policy responses liberals advocate to deal with the threat of school shootings (policies I totally oppose) are, on the whole, milder and less destructive than those that most right-wingers support to fight terrorism. Would that the Left could be as sober as the Right when it comes to gun policy, and the Right as sober as the Left when it comes to the allegedly existential threat of terrorism.

Posted on Apr 17, 2007 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Least Dangerous Democrat

So last month I took a look at the Republican presidential candidates with an eye toward finding the least dangerous one. Which is the best you can do. At the end of the post, I promised “tomorrow: the Dems.” Better late than never.

You wouldn’t know it from what I’ve written in the last few years, but I started out life as a rightwinger. And though I almost always vote for whatever alimony-fugitive, blue-skinned, unemployed tax-resister the LP throws up, I sometimes secretly root for the Republican.

I think the last six years have cured me of that, but I still find it odd to entertain voting for the Dems. Though since Stupid and Evil appear to have flipped in the post-9/11 world, I suppose it’s worth thinking about. Among the front-runners, who’s the least dangerous D?

I don’t know if I’d call Edwards particularly dangerous. But part of what we’re doing in picking a president is hiring a National Talk Show Host (with nuclear weapons) and if I had to watch that unctuous, preening twit on the TV for four years I’d probably so lose my bearings I’d start subscribing to National Review again. Hillary of course is a bottomless appetite for power. The only candidates who worry me more are McCain and Giuliani.

Then there’s Obama. I like the guy. “Too cool and laid-back to be a really good professor” is how one of my friends remembered him in a conversation we had a couple of months ago. (Our law school class overlapped with his tenure as a law prof/state senator.) I never had him as a prof, but I can picture it.

He’s to the left of 87 percent of his Senate colleagues on economic issues. And I don’t like that. But what I really don’t like is his vacuous “up with people!” message–I’m for new ideas! and against old political labels! It offends me with its inoffensiveness. If you read Obama’s 2004 Democratic Convention speech, you learn that the Audacity of Hope is the promise of redemption through presidential politics. Is audacious the right word for believing in that? The idea that the president’s capable of righting all the country’s wrongs is just about the stupidest thing a person could believe in, and liberals who embrace it forfeit all right to get snooty with creationist yokels. “Intelligent Design” at least seems pretty much nonfalsifiable, whereas presidential salvationism gets falsified just about every day of the week, every week of the year, every year of every administration of any living American’s lifetime.

The odd thing is, though, somewhere in the middle of the swirling cloud of Kennedyesque bullshit that surrounds Obama, I suspect there’s an actual human being, maybe even one who doesn’t yet fully believe what he’s selling. That’s one reason this Andrew Ferguson piece from the Weekly Standard is intriguing, funny, and depressing all at the same time.

It’s a review of Obama’s two books, Dreams from My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006). Ferguson contrasts the two and concludes “we have lost a writer and gained another politician. It’s not a fair trade.” Ferguson may be playing up how good Dreams from My Father really is. The logic of the piece he’s writing might tempt him in that direction. Still, the excerpts he quotes are pretty damned good: genuinely funny and genuine. The second book, apparently, is robotic and deadly.

Another sign is that until very recently, they guy smoked, which suggests that there was a time at least when he was growing up when he didn’t envision himself as president–a good sign, except perhaps in W.’s case. There’s something pathetic and tragic about Obama happytalking his way around Iowa and New Hampshire, chewing Nicorette all the while. If he rides this wave of adulation into the White House, whatever dying flame of normalcy still gutters within will be forever extinguished. He’ll be nuts–as nuts as you’d be if you spent over two years peddling Rainbows and Uplift, and America bought it and made you king.

So if forced to pick, I’ll take New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. He has a solid C on the Cato Fiscal Policy Report Card (down from a B- at the midterm.) He recently signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana, showing decent courage for a Dem that wants to be president. He’s for a real withdrawal from Iraq, and I’m getting close to being a single-issue voter.

Most important of all, he’s agreeably schlumpy. You can picture him leaving the can with a strip of toilet paper trailing him, stuck to his heel. It is very, very hard to imagine a cult of personality growing up around Bill Richardson. Then again, we’ve shaped idols out of even less likely clay.

Posted on Apr 16, 2007 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Rarely Is the Question Asked…

…have conservatives become morons?

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude. I know this is a conservative site. I once considered myself something of a conservative. In some ways, such as adherence to the Constrained Vision of human potential, I still am. But some of what I read day to day in the conservative press is making it very, very hard to feel the slightest affinity with you people. On the other hand, reading the conservative press has the effect of further constraining my vision of human potential, so maybe it’s a wash.

Perhaps a better question is, do you people think I’m a moron? The reason I ask is because of this Wall Street Journal editorial:

It barely gets a headline these days, but terrorists are continuing to use chemical weapons in Iraq — or what was once called a weapon of mass destruction. In this case the weapon is a truck full of explosives and chlorine, which a suicide bomber drives into some public place for maximum terror impact.

The title of the editorial is, of course, “WMD in Iraq.” The source for said WMD? Well, chlorine “is used in water purification plants, and insurgents in Anbar province have been raiding water plants and chlorine truck deliveries in Jordan, Syria and Iraq to use in the bombings.”

Just what is the lesson I’m supposed to draw from this? That the Iraq War was justified because Saddam’s Iraq had water purification plants? That we should invade any vaguely angry-looking country that has Arabs and swimming pools? No, apparently it’s the same message that seems to be all the Right has left after the manifest failure of its plan to pacify the Middle East by dropping bombs on it: to wit, “liberals suck.” The whole thing just has an air of bottomless exhaustion to it: you must go on I can’t go on, I’ll go on. The writer’s obviously smart enough to know the difference between constructing an argument and soiling himself, but the latter’s what’s called for, again and again and again.

Posted on Apr 10, 2007 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Lock ‘Em Up

I suppose I can–just barely–understand why some people on the Right think Nancy Pelosi shouldn’t have made nice with Bashar Assad. The concern is that the president is supposed to be America’s chief diplomat in foreign affairs–consistent with his power to negotiate treaties and receive ambassadors, etc.–and people think her visit challenged that principle and undermined the perception of unity in foreign policy. Even if you think our current policy is nuts, you might think what the Speaker did was poor form. However, if Assad reads newspapers, he knows that the federal government is not in fact unified with regard to the Bush administration’s foreign policy. What Pelosi’s trip adds to that is mostly symbolic, it seems to me, and I don’t see why this is a serious problem.

However, the idea that she should be prosecuted under the Logan Act–advanced in the pages of the Wall Street Journal by Robert Turner–is nuts. Here’s the relevant language from the act:

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

It looks to be an unconstitutionally broad statute passed by the same gaggle of High Federalists in the same Congress that gave us the Alien and Sedition Acts. Maybe there’s a reason there’s [.pdf] never been a Logan Act prosecution. Having read the Turner piece, I’m still at a loss to figure out how the “executive power” or any other provision of the Constitution actually bars congressmen from visiting and parlaying with foreign governments. But now that he’s awakened the Right to the promise of the Logan Act, maybe we’ll hear calls for prosecution of Jesse Jackson or Jimmy Carter next time they stick their nose in internationally. The statutory language is broad enough to allow that.

Turner’s wacky notion that Pelosi ought to be prosecuted for talking to Assad is of a piece with conservatives’ calls to start Espionage Act prosecutions against New York Times’ reporters for revealing that Bush was violating FISA.There’s a growing number of conservatives–maybe a majority?–who seem to think their Leader’s opponents should just be thrown in jail.

Posted on Apr 9, 2007 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

“Scarface for New Yorker Subscribers”

I think of the last three seasons of the Sopranos as equivalent to the Guns ‘n Roses Use Your Illusion double album: squeeze out the filler and you have almost one first-rate season. As for last night, I found the first half hour deliberately, insultingly boring. And then, in that menacing, squirm-inducing Monopoly game, it was all redeemed.

Here’s a “greatest hit” from my Sopranos-blogging in the past. But, as always, the place to go for good Sopranos-blogging is “The House Next Door,” the site run by the Newark Star-Ledger’s Matt Zoller Seitz (from whom I pilfered the title of this entry).

Posted on Apr 9, 2007 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Do You Like Gladiator Movies, Joey?

I’m not sure why, but the new “I am Starbucks” ad campaign makes me smirk. It’s a Corporate Chavez type of thing about Latin American coffee growers but I picture a whole field of D.C.-area Starbucks consumers: doughy middle managers, pallid policy geeks, and thick-ankled corporate lawyers in businessskirts clutching mochas, all declaiming “I am Starbucks!”

Posted on Apr 5, 2007 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

MC Warren G.

Toni Morrison called Bill Clinton “our first black president,” but rumor had it that the great Warren G. Harding was first. I don’t know if the following supports or undermines the rumor, but it does testify to Harding’s general awesomeness. Here’s Harding entering President Taft’s name for renomination at the 1912 Republican convention, and using a lot of alliteration to refute charges that Taft was insufficiently progressive:

Progression is not proclamation nor palaver. It is not pretense nor play on prejudice. It is not of personal pronouns nor perennial pronouncement. It is not the perturbation of a people passion-wrought, nor a promise proposed. Progression is everlastingly lifting the standards that marked the end of the world’s march yesterday and planting them on new and advanced heights today. Tested by such a standard, President Taft is the greatest progressive of the age.

That’s quoted in John Dean’s great little bio of Harding. Yes, that John Dean. Turns out Dean grew up in Marion, Ohio, Harding’s hometown, and thus took an interest in Harding even before serving, like Harding, in a scandal-tarred White House.

Dean notes that, in addition to the neologism “normalcy,” Harding popularized the term “bloviate,” in part with self-deprecating reference to his own rhetoric, like that above.

Posted on Apr 4, 2007 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Rude to Our Leaders! Rude!

This Michael Ware story–involving the CNN reporter alleged to have heckled Senator John McCain at a presser in Baghdad–turns out to be false. But the giddily indignant reaction to it on the Right reminds me of the similar spasm that followed Jim Webb’s “disrespectful” behavior toward the president last November. In the latter case, you’ll recall, Webb’s offense, when asked by the president about his son James Webb, Jr., currently serving in Iraq, was to answer that he wanted his son home. In Ware’s case, the alleged rudeness consisted in laughing when John McCain continued to press his claims about improved safety in Baghdad. You can walk around there, no problem! Really!

In each case, Wingers seem a lot more concerned about the proper deference owed our rulers than they do about the merits of the underlying dispute. In the first case, James Webb Jr., like many others, may be killed because the president sent him into a disastrous, unnecessary war that the president could not be bothered to carefully research or think clearly about. That’s not important, though; what’s important to large swathes of the Right, is that it’s rude to remind the president of those facts. In the Ware case–which again, turned out to be false–the imagined offense was laughing while a US senator who supports the war utters falsehoods about that war that are almost too transparent to be called ‘lies’–no one could be fooled.

Manners are important, yes. But it would be nice if, in between lecturing everyone on how to properly curtsey, some conservatives could muster a little indignation about how our rulers actually behave.

Posted on Apr 3, 2007 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Reviewing the NYT Book Review

In yesterday’s NYT book review, Times economics columnist David Leonhardt reviews Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism. He didn’t like it much. Nothing wrong with that–if I weren’t a “movement” junkie, I’m sure I wouldn’t have appreciated the book nearly as much. But Leonhardt’s review is a polemical smear-job that reveals more about the writer than the subject. Over at Cato@Liberty, David Boaz has the goods.

Posted on Apr 2, 2007 in Uncategorized | Comments Off