The triumph of the third-rate

It seems to me that the lightweights have all but taken over the conservative media. Set aside the historical absurdities of Malkin and the overt inanities of Shapiro, consider today’s National Review Online. There are a grand total of twelve articles cum columns on its homepage. Of these, one is dedicated to the Grand Theme of the present administration, the war. Two are dedicated to Katrina. There is one generally silly piece that appears to deal with media bias and one long stream of rumblings – including some eyebrow-raising praise for the Old Left – from the resident curmudgeon, John Derbyshire. Two columns on Tom Delay’s travails, one solid piece disemboweling the logic of static tax models and no less than four (4!) television and movie reviews.

Furthermore, The Corner is filled to the brim with a discourse that is not remarkably deeper than what one might expect at an MTV-related blog, minus the vulgarities and nUsp33k. I was almost embarrassed to be reading it, and I regularly write about fantasy football!

Now, there are several possibilities here. As the Fraters Libertas-nominated official columnist of the National Organization for Women, I would be remiss if I did not point out that NRO now has a woman editor, and as everyone knows by now, I expect female intellectuals to be rather more interested in the latest revelations from the idiot box and People Magazine than in such small and passing matters as death, war and taxes. (Knowing that this statement will cause some inadvertant panty-bunching, I went back to look at who wrote what and discovered that the only three pieces written by women are those focused on – hold your breath – the Oliver Twist movie, the Truman Capote movie and the Geena Davis TV show. If I’m such a stupid mysogynist, then why are my baseless suspicions always confirmed so readily?)

However, I suspect that the embrace of silliness on the part of NRO is more than the current editing-by-chick from which it suffers. The more insidious problem is that conservatives have been betrayed by their standard bearer, so they are in a period of doubt as to what conservatism even means these days. Hence the coining of new modifying adjectives, the appearance of neo-compassionate, strong government, pragma-conservatives and inevitable falling away of the true conservatives, such as Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter.

I find it very interesting that while the three most popular WND writers – Pat, Ann and me – regularly excoriate the Bush administration, the “leading” conservative publication is largely silent on the negatives, preferring instead to focus on the rapidly decreasing number of positives when it’s possible and blathering on about ephemeral trivialities when it’s not.

Or perhaps it’s too many years of weak opposition, after all, successfully engaging the liberal Democratic line these days doesn’t exactly require a mind honed like a katana made by a Japanese swordmaster. All I know that I don’t regret giving up my NR Digital subscription last year. I didn’t do it out of anger or even annoyance, it was simply the realization that I’d accumulated twelve weeks worth without once feeling the desire to read one.

My mind may not be clean, but at least it’s not full of fluff. Forget the Lesser Evil… Cthulhu in 2008!

And why, exactly, is this our problem?

Israel wants to put the US military in action:

The United States and its allies must act to stop Iran’s nuclear programs — by force if necessary — because conventional diplomacy will not work, three senior Israeli lawmakers from across the political spectrum warned yesterday. As a last resort, they said, Israel itself would act unilaterally to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear arms.

Here’s the question. If a nuclear Iran is a serious and direct threat to Israel – and I’m not arguing that it isn’t – why is it the United States’ responsibility to deal with it? Israel clearly has the ability to deal with the threat, as its lawmakers readily admit, so why should the responsibility devolve upon Americans?

Blessing Israel, as Christians are called to do, does not involve blind obedience to Israeli lawmakers anymore than giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s requires paying taxes one does not owe.

The reality is that nuclear technology is very close to being beyond the control of the nation-state. While this is somewhat frightening, as chaotic periods of historical transition are usually quite unpleasant, the truth is that it is actually likely to increase individual freedom in the long term. As Carroll Quigly points out in his insightful Tragedy And Hope, the cheap and ready availability of military-level weapons technology to the masses has always had the tendency to decrease the ability of central governments to use force to oppress their people.

The problem lies in the governments’ inevitable attempts to retain the upper hand, which can often be quite violent. I do not think it is an accident that it should be at this time of a teetering status quo that the leaders of Australia, the UK and the USA should be publicly making noises about using their militaries to suppress civil liberties in their countries.

It seems we live in interesting times, unfortunately.

Enjoy the silence

We apologize for the recent service outage. Although it somehow seems to escape nearly everyone’s attention, I do have a Real Job which occasionally necessitates blogging downtime. The reason I do not ever write about it is that, as with the Destroyer in Macroscope, the intellectual content would sear your brain, albeit from utter boredom instead of a conceptual mind-scrambler.

I did, however, spot a nice used Ferrari on offer today as I was out and about. It was an elegant grey beast, but not nearly flashy enough for my liking. Let’s face it, if you’re going to drive Italian, you’ve simply got to be obnoxious about it.

Be afraid, be very afraid

National Review reviews the anti-Hillary Clinton commercial:

In the glorious future, with the issues so perfectly framed, “Democrat” and “liberal” have withered away, and everyone presumably knows that their choice is between upright, sincere independents (like Allen) and icy, extremist Republicans. Ah, to dream.

Liberals are serious about human rights in this world too. Working out a subplot, Allen’s aides keep reminding her about the Nigeria situation: In accordance with sharia, Nigeria is about to put a woman to death for committing adultery. Allen is concerned.

Throughout, Allen is shown confidently ordering around generals and positioning aircraft carriers (see, this is why stereotypes are bad). And as Commander limps through its 38th minute, she brings the Nigerian ambassador to a Joint Chiefs’ meeting and proceeds to illustrate how the Marines will storm his country if the woman isn’t released immediately.

While many people labor under the idea that the world would be a more peaceful place if women were in charge, I have my suspicions that the opposite is likely true. I don’t think we should have invaded Iraq simply because the Ba’ath dictatorship got its kicks by going Fargo on its citizens, but there apparently there are more than a few women who fantasize about sending in the Marines because a country applies a law supported by one-sixth of the world’s population to a single individual.

Fortunately, Hillary will probably be too occupied with oppressing the American citizenry to bother playing Global Mommy, although it is true her spiritual godfather was able to invade countries and slaughter civilians at the same time. Perhaps her total lack of a maternal instinct will be one plus for the Lizard Queen as president.

Is there anyone here who actually plans to watch this show? I certainly don’t.

False erudition

A Jay Nordlinger reader exposes Dan Brown yet again:

My colleague Christopher Howse has pointed out that you can tell that The Da Vinci Code is rubbish just by its name. Students of art refer to the man in question as ‘Leonardo’, ‘Da Vinci’ being simply the identifier of his town of origin. So Dan Brown’s title is the equivalent of a book about Jesus being called Of Nazareth. [That is much better than my “of Orange” example.] To be fair, though, these things do not follow a common rule. A friend of mine who had done a thesis on Correggio applied for an art history fellowship at a well-known university. One of those interviewing him for the post asked, ‘So where did Correggio come from?’ My friend replied truthfully, ‘From Correggio.’ He sensed at once that he should have spared his questioner’s blushes. He failed to get the fellowship.

I never consciously thought about it that way, but it might be one reason why I could never bring myself to bother reading The Da Vinci Code despite the fact that I’ll cheerfully plow through the complete John Norman or Patrick O’Brien in a matter of weeks. I’m no literary snob, but one does have to draw a line somewhere… although I rather feel as if I’m biting the hand that doesn’t exactly feed me, but does toss me a few treats now and then, considering that Pocket has amassed a fair amount of the coin of the realm thanks to Mr. Brown.

Martial law: coming soon to a country near you

From the Washington Times:

President Bush yesterday sought to federalize hurricane-relief efforts, removing governors from the decision-making process. “It wouldn’t be necessary to get a request from the governor or take other action,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday. “This would be,” he added, “more of an automatic trigger.”

Mr. McClellan was referring to a new, direct line of authority that would allow the president to place the Pentagon in charge of responding to natural disasters, terrorist attacks and outbreaks of disease.

I wonder how long after this law passes there will be a terrorist attack that sets off the automatic trigger. Six months? Six days? At some point, even the most naive, pro-government American has to seriously consider that perhaps the administration is enacting laws such as these with a specific purpose in mind.

But, of course, who could question the good intentions of George Bush after he said that the philosopher who had influenced him most was “Christ”. Now, it is certainly not for me to judge another man’s heart, but I always harbor a certain amount of skepticism about self-professed Christians who nevertheless seem to avoid the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth like the plague.

On an increasingly tangential note, I also wonder, when Paul repeatedly warns that the Church will be attacked by many enemies within, why Christians spend so little effort contemplating who those treacherous wolves in sheep’s clothing in their own local church might be.

Mailvox: it’s all a sham anyhow

Someone who knows a lot more about this stuff than I do weighs in:

The national strategy to place a democracy in Iraq has no bearing on military strategy right now. I don’t know if that was ever in the plans – certainly wasn’t when I was in on the planning. The current strategy on the ground is to establish a government, any government that can stand on its own long enough for us to get our finger off of it and run like hell. (I guess I look at it like teaching the neighbors kid how to ride a bike, doesn’t matter if it’s a nice kid or a bully, as soon as he starts going by himself, we’re out of there before he crashes on a major scale)). Although, running like hell simply means withdrawing to a few heavily fortified bases so we can project power at a later date.

I say this for a few reasons: 1) Saddam is going to be tried in an unwestern style court, and probably executed promptly after without much appeal. 2) Iraqi ministry of interior forces conduct interrogation of terrorists/collaborators in ways that even make me cringe – right in front of US intelligence personnel… And ministry of interior personnel are expanding along with secret police outfits. 3) We declined to create their constitution for them (Germany, Japan) knowing full well, the Iraqis may very well vote themselves a Shiite theocracy…quite a lot of griping by senior commanders about that one. 4) State Department constantly interfering with the war effort, doing things like putting Muqtada Al Sadr on a do-not-kill list, etc…

Anyway, I conclude that our “grand strategy” is simply to hold on long enough that secret police outfits, MOI intelligence agents and the IP/ING have enough of (an iron) grip on the population that we can withdraw. Government type is really irrelevant at this point.

This suggests, unsurprisingly, that yet another purported rationale for the Iraqi invasion and occupation is nothing more than political smoke and mirrors meant to entertain the unthinking masses. It also suggests that the administration knows perfectly well the absurdity of its own public position, and that bringing “democracy” to Iraq won’t make a bit of difference with regards to future acts of terror.

I’ve never understood how it made any sense to claim that the administration’s briar-patch strategy would make Americans safer when it is a voluntary decision for jihadists to engage American troops there. How does a base in Iraq prevent a cell leader in Syria Jordanian or Saudi jihadist to attack Cleveland?