Friday, February 29, 2008
I had never heard of this guy, but I never listen to anything in which the phrase "Whore of Babylon" features, if it refers to Holy Mother Church. We owe Professor Althouse one for this. I was probably not going to vote for McCain anyway, but the chances just went from slim to none.
Not that you shouldn't vote for McCain. By all means, vote for whomever you want. But I think it's going to be another libertarian year for me. I don't know that I can vote for Ron Paul. Maybe I'll just write in Richard Epstein. I don't know that he would be a good President, but he would certainly be a highly entertaining one. As a Californian, my vote matters next to nothing anyway. It's more just something between me, my conscience, God, and the evil priest who mind-controls me into serving the Papist agenda (it's the domination of the world, stupid).
That's one funky poster Pastor Hoggy or whatever his name is has illustrating the history of the world. I wonder if I could buy one somewhere. I like the chunky, slatternly WOB on the back of the, I take it that's the Beast of Revelation? The carnival sideshow art style is perfect. For the Beast at the End of Days, it's not very menacing looking. It's looks like a big pink reptile of the sort one might be tempted to buy at Petco, but that may be the Catholic in me speaking. I do rather like reptiles and have collected them at times in my life. We now have a corn snake, a gekko and a White's tree frog (I know, amphibian) at home. I had always thought that was just my biophilia, but I guess it could be having been damned from the beginning of time.
I really don't take it personally. I know it is the job of a politician to suck up to whatever disgusting nutball with a following that he has to in order to fulfill the craving for personal aggrandizement that any successful politician must have, in addition to helping us all lead more fulfilling lives. McCain is just doing his job. I'm good with that. But, since it is my vote, I think I'll just grace somebody else with it.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
I'm saddened by Bill Buckley's death. If I can manage it, I want to write something on "Buckley the Catholic" which is something worth commenting on. In addition to his many other virtues, he was the kind of man that made you proud to be his co-religionist.
He also seemed to be the kind of man who just belonged to life, such an affirmative lover of life. No doubt this is part of the reason his loss feels so wrong. But in fact, it isn't.
In peace let us take our brother to his place of rest. May the angles lead him into paradise; may the martyrs come to welcome him and take him to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.
I think my readers know me well enough to know that I don't suck up to big time bloggers, so this post is not an attempt to suck up to Glenn Reynolds. It is inspired instead by the remarkably ignorant email from some NYC dweller he posted regarding Tennessee. I just thought I would relate my brief exposure to Tennessee, though this comes from quite a while ago when I was in practice.
My firm was representing a small manufacturing company that made extremely high quality balls and rollers in a small town in eastern Tennessee. This bearings competed very well with Japanese parts which (this was the '80s) were supposed to be taking over the world. We were doing a leveraged restructuring of the company that was going to make quite a few of the employees rich. The founder was already rich, but he was going to get richer. So for due diligence and then to close the deal, we slick DC lawyers flew down to Tennessee to see what was what.
Because Tennessee is a model business corporation act state, I was able to devise a much simpler, even elegant way to do the transaction, than the partners of my firm had in mind, a feat for which I got, as far as I could tell, no credit at all.
So, some impressions. The factory was an interesting place, combing the latest technology with old pickups parked in front. Some old machines with computerized gizmos strapped on to them. But out of the end came these beautiful high precision bearings.
The people were very nice and no dummies, as their impending wealth helped confirm. It was fun to watch $5 million drop into the savings account of the hard-working CFO. His savings account was the only account he had for us to drop the money into. When I checked in with him a year later and asked him how being rich was working out for him, he allowed that he had bought a new refrigerator.
The country side was very beautiful. It looked like the Shire. In some restaurant where the locals told me to eat, I had something like a food-related orgasm. It was some sort of barbecue thing I think, a great pile of meat slivers with some sauce that made the fat-loving part of my brain weep for joy. Trust me on this. I noticed the women of this land were lovely and looked at you in a way that made you feel funny, but in a good way. You don't get a lot of that in New York.
There are probably a lot of places in the US like this, but there are also plenty of places I would pay money not to have to go back to, but no point offending anybody by naming them. Every devil loves the marsh where he was born.
Just a few of the thoughts that Bill Buckley's life and death are conjuring up:
Myron Magnet in the indispensable City Journal (Magnet was its long-time editor):
When I saw a headline a few months ago, A WORLD WITHOUT BILL BUCKLEY, my blood ran cold. A smaller, drabber world indeed, I thought. The appropriately adulatory text (a book review, as I recall) calmed me down, but anyone who had seen Bill recently knew that the smaller, drabber world was at hand.
From first hearing him speak at my high school when he was a young man, through watching him in sparkling, imperious, and rather intimidating action as his guest on Firing Line, I saw his character become ever more clearly the unmistakable, irreplaceable Buckley: witty, cultivated, playful, urbane, gracious, brave, zestful, life-affirming, tireless, and gallant—the incarnation of grace. He taught many not only how to think but also how to be.
And from Rick Perlstein on the left - today's younger and so often rebarbative left - "Why William F. Buckley Was My Role Model":
Why did I love WFB? The game of politics is to win over American institutions to our way of seeing things using whatever coalition, necessarily temporary, that we can muster to win our majority, however contingent—and if we lose, and we are again in the minority, live to fight another day, even ruthlessly, while respecting our adversaries' legitimacy to govern in the meantime, while never pulling back in offering our strong opinions about their failures, in the meantime. This was Buckleyism—even more so than any particular doctrines about "conservatism."
Nice people, friends, can disagree about the most fundamental questions about the organization of society. And there's nothing wrong with that. We must not fantasize about destroying our political adversaries, nor fantasize about magically converting them. We must honor that some humans are conservative and some humans are liberal, and that it will always be thus.
And some, simply are mensches... Buckleyism to the end: friendship, and adversarialism, coinciding. All of us who write about politics, may that be our role model.
And finally, almost at random, something I posted in December 2003 when Buckley had written about JFK - that his "sheer beauty" had been "singular and enduring":
Bill Buckley has it right on all counts about JFK, I think. Buckley's parenthetical - that Kennedy came to the cause of civil rights "sooner than I did" - is honourable and endearing.
Buckley's final, personal words about Kennedy - that JFK's legacy is wrapped up in his "sheer beauty" - apply, oddly but inescapably, to Buckley himself. Unlike Kennedy, whose lasting influence on public policy was surprisingly slight, Buckley's own influence on public life has been both "singular and enduring". WFB helped lay the intellectual and moral groundwork for Ronald Reagan's election and for the conservative revival generally in this country. But the personal parallel with Kennedy is striking. There is an enormously beguiling human quality about Buckley. WFB has that mischievous joy; a laugh you can read by; and a transparent personal kindness. He gives intense pleasure - by no means only to conservatives - just by being here.
Oh, noscitur a sociis: know him by his friends. Actually a lawyer's "canon of interpretation": when in doubt, interpret an ambiguous word or phrase by its context, its "neighbour" words. WFB would have known the phrase immediately of course - I hope he would smile, or flash his eyes, at hearing it.
I was going to write a long post on Bill Buckley, but Ilya Somin has said most of what I would have said. In so many ways, Buckley made the Reagan coalition possible. By helping to marginalize antisemites and other fringe groups from conservative right, while at the same time pursuing an alliance of sorts with libertarians, Buckley broadened and strengthened the Right, and helped make the Reagan revolution possible. Buckely continued these actions into the 90s, including strictly scrutinizing Pat Buchanan's behavior.
I do not see myself as a follower of Buckley's world view. While he was a conservative, who was open to some libertarian ideas, I am much more of a libertarian, who appreciates the limits that conservatism places on the utopian aspects of libertarianism. Rather, Buckley's importance for me was that his fusionist perspective allowed me to be more receptive to conservative ideas at a time when I was a pure libertarian, who had no sympathy for conservatism at all. Buckley's positions permitted me to feel more comfortable with conservativism. Current day conservatives, like Fred Barnes or David Brooks, have had the opposite effect on me.
His passing makes it all the harder, yet all the more important, for fusionists to succeed in strengthening the ties between libertarians and conservatives.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
He was my teacher, as he was to so many of us: politically, and even more so personally. At a distance, again as is true for most of us: I only met WFB a few times, and then briefly. He has an enormous number of friends and spiritual godchildren that he never - or barely - knew.
If you'd like to see and hear him again, the Hoover Institution has created a website for Firing Line. You can watch several full broadcasts and lengthy excerpts here - scroll down and use the "Real Media" links.
The Hebrew phrase for a great teacher who has died is "zichrono le'vrachah" - his memory is for a blessing.
WFB - z"l.
I was sad to hear that William Buckley has died. I hope to say something more about him in the near future. But for now, let me provide this link to a 1969 debate/interview he had with Noam Chomsky. Two giants in their prime. I will certainly miss Buckley.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Ralph Nader has announced for President. According to the Intrade prediction market, John McCain's chances of winning the election is now 35 percent, rising from, if memory serves, 33 percent from earlier in the week. I guess the markets think it will be a blow out. If that is true, then one might expect a larger, perhaps a much larger, showing from Nader than in previous years. '
Update: Powerline also notes Nader's entrance and seem to suggest he will get very few votes. I think they are missing the point I make above.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Andrew Sullivan writes:
The Clintons, we can now safely say, got lazy. Or rather their old and now forgotten lackadaisical attitude toward governing returned like a persistent flu to campaigning. We tend to forget that their entire governing agenda after 1994 was essentially finessing Gingrich and battling impeachment. (Their entire agenda before 1994 was successful Eisenhower economics, and disastrous Hillarycare). It's been fifteen years since the Clintons actually stood for a coherent message, and it turns out they had forgotten that you kind of need that for a presidential run.
Italics mine. While I do admit that the last six years of the Clinton presidency was a good time domestically for the country, I tend to regard it as largely the result of the Republican Revolution. Sullivan seems to be suggesting something similar.
Charles Krauthammer makes the case that victory is achieveable in Iraq. He says, "After agonizing years of searching for the right strategy and the right general, we are winning." He also notes that the Democrats refuse to admit the significant progress.
I have not heard much from intelligent war critics recently. I am genuinely curious what they would say. I know all about their arguments that there should not have been a war, that it has been fought incompetently (no argument there), or that it has not been worth it. The question is whether they deny that victory is realistically achieveable. Really.