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We Knew This Was Coming


When the retarded cannot be executed, the deserving of execution become retarded — according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Ambassador’s Wife


Here’s what Cliff May has to say about the Joe Wilson affair, which he has been on since the beginning.


Take That Russert!


Since Tim Russert always insists on boosting his Buffalo Bills at the end of Meet the Press, it was quite satisfying that my Eagles got their first win of the season against them — and in Buffalo no less. (Don’t worry, K-Lo, this will be my only sports-related post of the day.)

Web Briefing: September 30, 2014

Eminent Domain


That “city in Ohio” Jonah speaks of below is my neighbor, Lakewood, which is just west of Cleveland. Lakewood seeks to eject longtime residents from their homes in order to make way for condo and retail development. Plan proponents insist all residents are being treated “fairly” — if, by fairly, one means forcibly removing people from their homes and offering “market-value” for their homes. It is, as Jonah suggests, quite outrageous.


Lonely Conservative Academics


David Brooks weekend column on conservative academics was spot on. UCLA Professor Stephen Bainbridge has further comments on the matter here.

Kissing Cousins in Iraq


John Tierney had a piece on Iraqi cousin marriage in Sunday’s New York Times. I raised this issue before the war, and Tierney quotes me in his article. I liked the piece a lot. It showed very graphically the problems that a traditional kinship system can pose for modern state building. What Tierney didn’t get a chance to talk about was the solution. I don’t believe Iraqi kinship poses an insurmountable barrier to democratization–although the problem will take time to overcome. The answer is to build up a middle class more beholden to education and meritocratic advancement than to kinship connections. For more on the conflict between kinship, cousin marriage, and democracy, see “Veil of Fears,” and “With Eyes Wide Open.” In my City Journal piece, “After the War,” and in “Democratic Imperialism: A Blueprint,” I talk about how to overcome the problem.



Email from a “10th-generation New Hampshireman” in response to my NRODT piece, subject “You nailed Vermont.”:

When I was a boy in the 1960’s, we regarded Vermont as a similar state and friendly rival. It is now a foreign country (Belgium, perhaps), and your article captures a good deal of why this is. It has given me much to think about.

I would like to briefly expand two points: Because there is no manufacturing, little development, and less large retail, the bobos have not only overwhelmed the culture of old Vermonters, they have prevented them from escaping their low incomes. If a Vermonter doesn’t live close enough to the NY or NH border to work across state lines, his vocational options are sharply limited. The nighttime population of VT is nearly 10% larger than its daytime population. Because of Vermont’s Wal-Mart hatred, the poor pay higher prices for their goods as well, either by buying locally or by driving to NH. It’s a tough place to be in construction trades, for example. Even the subsidized dairy farming is no way to make a living. The farmers are not subsidized to wealth, but to getting by. There will be no getting ahead for them. And because putting houses on the land is so difficult, it is even difficult for the farmer to cash in and get out. It is a serfdom imposed by exiles from New York and Philadelphia, who really like to see dairy farms on their drive home. The phenomenon is not unknown in NH, but we hold it in check much better. We like development; our dairy farmers sell at a higher price and retire.

The colonialization by Flatlanders is very similar to what the original colonists did to the Indians. There were some battles in New England, but not wholesale slaughter. After our diseases wiped out 90% of the natives, the remaining Indians were kept impovershed by land use laws: the English considered that you did not own the land unless you fenced it and “improved” it. America’s first restrictive zoning laws, and it had the same effect as the 1970 legislation in VT. The natives saw the writing on the wall and moved out. So this group of bobos is unknowingly reenacting what they consider to be one of the most shameful chapters of American history. Invaders have moved in with their “superior culture,” and if the Vermonters won’t change, they can live marginally or leave.

I work at a hospital in Concord NH that gets its medical staff by contract from Dartmouth Medical School. A lot of these folks live in VT, or did until recently, and all came from outside. They don’t believe they have changed VT but have blended into it. If you encounter this attitude, try the question “How many New Yorkers do you know living in an old VT farmhouse?” They will think at first that the number is small. Six months later they will admit to discovering it is large.

Elia Kazan


Jon – Total agreement here about Kazan. He would be more widely recognized as one of the greatest directors in the history of film were it not for the fact that so many in Hollywood have soft spots for Communists and mental-misfires about what anti-Communism was about. His influence on the profession of acting was greater than any other director’s. Actor Karl Malden once told the New York Times, “Twenty-one actors who worked in his films were nominated for Oscars, and nine won Oscars.”

My only quibble is that Kazan’s “A Face in the Crowd” is not only better than “On the Waterfront” it is arguably the best political movie I know of.

Elia Kazan, Rip


Elia Kazan, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, died on Sunday at the age of 94. His cinematic masterpieces include A Streetcar Named Desire and, my personal favorite, On the Waterfront. He further directed several award winning plays on Broadway, and accomplished the rare feat of winning both Oscars and Tonys for Best Director. Kazan’s reputation among the Glitterati took a hit when, in 1952, he testified before the House UnAmerican Affairs Committee about his flirtation with the Communist Party in the 1930s. Nonetheless, the Academy bestowed upon him a much-deserved Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1999.

Saddam Thought He Had Wmds...


Jim Lacey floated the possibility that Saddam’s scientists lied to him about WMDS back in May on NRO. Here’s a Time magazine news report this week suggesting as much. (Note: Lacey works for Time but had no part in the current investigation, as I understand it.) I’m not necessarily endorsing, just noting.

Up The “Confederacy”


Fr. Bryce Sibley reports that we’re getting ever closer to the long-promised film version of “A Confederacy of Dunces“. That’s the good news. The troubling news is that it looks like they’re considering Will Ferrell for the role of Ignatius Reilly. How can they? Ignatius is fat; Ferrell is tall and slender. Fr. Sibley is right: this is the role Philip Seymour Hoffman was born to play. I hope the good father is offering daily masses for this intention.

K Street


Painful to watch Mary Matalin fictionally flacking for the Saudis.
Amusing how indignant Barbara Boxer is on HBO though…would be more amusing, though, if we were not at war and all.

Brooks Is Getting Better


Yesterday’s column was not only strong, it was one Safire would never have written and the Times would never have run by a guest writer. Brook’s highlight’s what is common knowledge to every conservative journalist I know: post-grad academia is horrendously bigoted against conservatives. I have at least half dozen friends who either have PhDs but couldn’t possibly find work in academia or who gave up seeking them for the same reason. One friend of mine whose credentials and scholarship are outstanding is toiling in a fifth-tier school precisely because he’s a conservative. Other PhD’d friends of mine are in the administration, at think tanks or in journalism because they’d never have a chance to teach. And, as Brooks notes, it’s not merely a straightforward political bias, the barrier also has to do with how loopy academia has become in general. Most conservative would-be academics aren’t interested in partisan politics, but they are interested in the classics, the canon, mainstream history, etc — and that stuff is knuckle-dragging nonsense to the folks who peddle post-colonial studies and the like.

Taken On Faith


A struggle against an ideology that is explicitly religious is bound to present difficulties in a country conditioned to treading carefully where questions of faith are concerned. While the allegations of misconduct at Guantanamo remain – we should remember – unproved, it does seem that steps to tighten up supervision of the way in which chaplains are recruited are long, long overdue. Judging by this story in today’s New York Times the Pentagon is, at last, taking some action.

Goliath Casket!


Admit it, this is grimly amusing.

Zero Tolerance


EU Commission president Prodi came into office promising ‘zero tolerance’ for the sorts of corruption that had marred the outgoing administration in Brussels. Well, judging by this story, these days there’s zero tolerance in the EU bureaucracy all right – but for whistleblowers.

No Pain, No Gain


There has always been something a touch masochistic about the exercise crowd – but this is a little surprising.

Racist Cookies


Here’s what the Dallas Morning News had to say about the “affirmative action bake sale” at SMU. My newspaper’s editorial board supports affirmative action (I dissent from the majority on this), but we said collectively that SMU’s administration ought to be ashamed of itself for shutting down the conservative protest. It’s infuriating that the SMU folks, when confronted by the prospect of violence over this protest, sent in security not to protect the controversial speech, but to gag the protesters. But that’s life on campus these days. Here’s something you might not know about SMU: the university, which is Laura Bush’s alma mater, is competing with Baylor University in Waco to be the location for the George W. Bush Presidential Library. As he’s making his decision, the president ought to take note of how student conservatives are treated by the SMU administration.

Ramesh Exonerated


Jonah, the fault was mine, not Ramesh’s. Long story. But when in doubt, blame me–it’s usually accurate to.

Muravchik On Neocons


I’ve only now finished Josh Muravchik’s dissection of the neocon conspiracy buffoonery that overcame so many otherwise intelligent people in recent times. It’s on the web at Commentary’s web site, but for a fee.

It is an amazingly well done piece, much better than


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