Google+

The Corner

The one and only.

The Latest Tweets from Team NRO . . .


Alterman



Text  



Eric Alterman — who left quite a bit to be desired as a landlord — says I had to forfeit my security deposit when I rented his apartment years ago. If that’s the case, I’ll take his word for it. Personally, I don’t remember. Of course, it makes sense that he would remember considering how important money seemed to him then and now. I don’t just mean his public whining about late payments from NRO (it’s the first I’ve heard about it to be honest). I mean, for example, his trying to bully me into buying his old DC metro fare-cards from him (“What? You conservatives don’t take public transportation? You must take cabs everywhere.”etc. etc.).

Eric says he won’t call me names — in what he must think is an example of taking the high road, and for him it is. So, I won’t call him names either. But he says my article is “full of it” — and that “that goes without saying.” And, in fairly typical fashion, he doesn’t offer any arguments or facts to back up the assertion (except to name a few lefties to his left). So, I guess I should say that I think his book is full of it too. But then again I actually back up my opinions. My review of his book will be in the next issue of The American Enterprise. I wrote it last week.

And On The Other Hand...



Text  



From another reader:

Good to see that Staussians are “mainstream conservatives” but Mel Bradford wasn’t. I’m glad that it’s okay to be part of a gnostic cult glorifying deception, hedonism, and atheism, but unforgivable to have supported George Wallace in 1968. I only wish someone would have explained that to Ronald Reagan, who courted the Wallace voters assiduously and won the White House in 1980 in part because many of them (included Bradford) voted for Reagan. It’s amazing the things I learn at NRO.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bradford



Text  



A reader corrects me re yesterday’s column:

Mr Goldberg,

A correction or clarification regarding your mention of Mel Bradford…

First, Bradford was not a historian. He was an English professor. He knew a lot about a lot, but if I recall correctly, his specialties were English Renaissance poetry (he was very fine on Ben Jonson) and the literature of the recent American South (the Fugitives, Faulkner, et al.). He knew a lot about history, and some of what he knew — or thought — about history, especially American history circa 1861-65, gave him some notoriety. But he wasn’t a historian.

Second, Reagan was quite right to pass over Bradford as secretary of education. Had Bradford been nominated, the confirmation hearings would have been a circus. Bradford was not a mainstream conservative, by which I mean he wasn’t in the Nixon/Rockefeller camp (definitely), he wasn’t in the Goldwater camp, he certainly wasn’t a Straussian (he was at sixes and sevens with the Straussians at UD all the time). He was the Dallas county head of the George Wallace presidential run in (scratching head here….) 1968. I don’t doubt that he was a segregationist, except that it’s important to note that Bradford was too young to have his birth date as an excuse for that particular mistake. He was in his late ’30s in the early 1970s when I was his student, although he gave the impression of being much older. Bradford lived in his fantasies of the noble old south more than anybody I ever knew — and I’ve known a number of people who lived in these fantasies.

Bradford was a brilliant reader of poetry, a criminally irresponsible teacher, an amateur historian who looked good because he had a flypaper memory and was a charming raconteur. In politics, however, he was a nut case. I am not the only person who knew him who thought that his name must have been mentioned in 1981 as a joke.


Web Briefing: July 30, 2014

In Defense of Me



Text  



I also said that I know many conservatives disagree with me about Kirk. I’m just not a big fan of Gothic, allusive, semi-colin-ridden writing. I never disputed Kirk’s importance or his brilliance.

ADVERTISEMENT

More On Kirk



Text  



Another nice passage on Kirk, from the same Frum essay: “Yet if Kirk’s great work cannot be counted as history, exactly, it ought to be esteemed as something in some ways more important: a profound critique of contemporary mass society, and a vivid and poetic image—not a program, an image—of how that society might better itself. It is, in important respects, the twentieth century’s own version of the Reflections on the Revolution in France. If Kirk was not a historian, he was an artist, a visionary, almost a prophet. As long as he lived, by word and example he cautioned conservatives against over-indulging their fascination with economics. He taught that conservativism was above all a moral cause: one devoted to the preservation of the priceless heritage of Western civilization.”

In Defense of Kirk



Text  



Russell Kirk gets a bum rap today from Derb and Jonah: Derb calls him “dreary” and Jonah says Kirk’s “style” leaves him “cold.” I disagree–and worry that some readers of The Corner may get the impression that Kirk was one of those brilliant-but-dense intellectuals. That’s just not true. Kirk always thought of himself foremost not as a political theorist or a historian–but as a man of letters. He was a very fine writer, and often he turned his attention to political theory and history. He also wrote ghost stories, plus a best-selling novel called The Old House of Fear. I could go on and on and on, but instead I’ll let NR’s David Frum do the talking for me, because he wrote a wonderful assessment of Kirk for the New Criterion in 1994, several months after the man passed away. An excerpt: “‘Professor J. W. Williams kindly read the manuscript of this book; and in his library at the Roundel, looking upon the wreck of St. Andrews cathedral, we talked of the inundation which only here and there has spared an island of humane learning like St. Andrews town.’ Those words, the opening sentence of the acknowledgments to The Conservative Mind, and the first of Russell Kirk’s that most of his readers will encounter, demonstrate what a fine literary artist he could be. You might close the book right there, and Kirk would already have stabbed you with a pang of loss and regret. An old cliché has it that a great actor can wring tears out of audience by reading a laundry list. Kirk could summon up nostalgia with a list of place-names. ‘These chapters have been written in a variety of places: in a but-and-ben snuggled under the cliffs of Eigg; in one of the ancient towers of Kellie Castle, looking out to the Forth; in my great-grandfather’s house in the stump-country of Michigan; among the bogs of Sligo in the west of Ireland; upon the steps of Ara Coeli, in Rome; at Balcarres House, where what Burke calls ‘the unbought grace of life’ still abides.’”

Defending Pryor Against The Nytimes



Text  


A Chimp Named Chimpsky



Text  



There is, apparently, a linguist chimpanzee called Nim Chimpsky. Who knew?

Re: Mini-Nukes



Text  



Incidentally, when thinking of the yield of nuclear weapons, it’s helpful to
try to visualize the numbers. One kiloton, for example, means equivalent to
a thousand tons of high explosive. Since H.E. is very roughly the same
density as water, and a cubic foot of water weighs about 62 pounds, a
thousand tons of H.E. would fill 36,000 or so cubic feet–which is to say, a
cubic space about 33 feet on a side. That’s about the interior space of my
modest suburban house, if you include basement and attic. A houseful of
high explosive–quite a bang. And that’s one kiloton.

Re: Blair and Race



Text  



Two quick points on the continuing Blair story (I really thought that this would have been over by now). 1) The New York Observer interview really shows what a pathological narcissistic personality Blair is. It’s frankly disturbing that this guy got as far as he did. 2) One place I slightly disagree with Jonah: I’m not sure that the hiring of Blair without a college degree is a sign of affirmative action. It’s somewhat unclear whether the Times people knew that he hadn’t graduated when they hired him full-time. Recall that he had worked as an intern the year before and then came back. It’s not unusual that a former intern at a company would have a leg up on being hired. While not exactly smart, it’s entirely possible that the Times folks saw this former intern, assumed that a year later he had graduated and they put him on full time. It’s certainly fair to slap them for sloppy background-checking, but this is one area where the screw-up could be unconnected to racial preference.

Defending Pryor



Text  



Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor is quickly becoming President Bush’s most controversial appellate judicial nominee to date. While Pryor is controversial in D.C., he’s appears to a more popular figure in his home state. The latest defense of Pryor is here.

Re: Mini-Nukes



Text  



I did not mention (because until today I’d never heard of it) the Davy
Crockett nuclear grenade
.

Liberal Places



Text  



Well, Rod, it seems to me that if you’re going to address that point, you should at least consider a few things. One: It’s not necessarily true. Hong Kong is certainly free-market and hence non-lefty. And, many people — let’s start with Jefferson — think cities in general are terrible. Two: many cities become great because they aren’t liberal and become liberal as the rent-seekers and second-generation professionals take over. As with the West generally, liberal lifestyles are luxuries which can be afforded only after great wealth is accumulated. Three: Please don’t forget the hypocrisy and crypto-racism of many crunchy-liberal locales. See this column by Tom Sowell for instance. Four: Maybe these places are great because, well, they are great and, like many other things, liberals make them worse than they could be. Or, at least, they don’t always make them better.

Re: Mini-Nukes



Text  



The one I’m thinking of is SADM, which stands for either “Special Atomic
Demolition Munition” or “Small Atomic Demolition Munition,” depending on
whom you ask. I overstated the yield by a decimal point or two, though–not
that you’d notice if the thing went off while you were trying to plant it.
The most detailed specs I have are: “0.1-1 KT – 163 pounds 39 x 26 inches -
79 pounds without case.” Seems to be still in inventory.

Down With Philosophy



Text  



Andrew: I would add Hume (though he was a Scotchman) for his demonstration
of where you get to by thinking too hard about what does and doesn’t exist.

Medved Thrives in Seattle



Text  



Here’s a nice feature on Michael
Medved’s happy life in lefty Seattle. The interview ends with the
conservative film critic and commentator posing a great question (and one I
hope to answer in the crunchy-con book I’m working on): “If conservative
ideas are so good, why is it that all the good places to live are so
liberal?” (Send your ideas to me at [email protected]).

Interesting Take



Text  



From a reader:

Jonah, I have been reading with interest your analysis of the “neocon” phenomenon. I re-read your thoughts on Africa, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. In it I think you accurately described the essence of what I understand to be neo-conservatism in that article. It is the idea that the social experiment called America is mankind’s best hope, and therefore, it must be exported by the most efficient means possible (including invasion when a threat is present) to the ultimate betterment of mankind. Yes it has its warts, but it is self-correcting as no other system is.
Lefties and postmodernists attack this approach as empire building, neo-colonialism, and worse (yeah, like their heroes the Soviets never tried to forcefully export their ideas to the world). Paleo-cons differ in that they don’t want to export this system. Not their job. (If the rest of the world discovers it, great. If not, the heck with ‘em.)
The fact that the first neos were ex-lefties is clear evidence to me of this distinction. They truly wanted to make the world a better place (I still believe there is a measure of altruism, however grossly misguided, in Leftist thought). They just finally realized that any degree of socialism wasn’t the answer. The answer was literally right under their feet!

Musings



Text  



John, as you would, I’m sure, agree, “anti-philosophical Englishman” is a fine example of tautology. All that musing about the purpose of existence is, as most Brits know, completely pointless (there is none) – the sort of thing best left to the sort of seedy Continentals who like to hang around dodgy cafes, drinking little cups of coffee, chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes (although that, of course, is fine) and talking polysyllabic nonsense. None of it is necessary. All you need is Mill for optimism, Hobbes for pessimism and Locke for commonsense and then you are done.

Yes, Yes



Text  



I think the “good point” fellow meant “meritorious.” At least I hope he did.

Slightly Different



Text  



Jonah quotes with approval a reader who claims that racist college admissions policy (a/k/a “affirmative action”) is bad because the policy “punishes meretricious applicants who happen to be neither minorities nor legacies.” Well, I think that’s debatable. “Meretricious” means “having the character of a prostitute”, and it’s certainly true that more meretricious students would make it easier for some other students to get a little satisfaction. On the other hand, a secondary meaning of “meretricious” is “showily but falsely attractive,” and it’s hard to see what benefit most colleges would get more from students like that. Such students could just skip college, and go directly into college administration. Personally, I think it would be better for colleges to focus on attracting meritorious students–perhaps including some former meretricians who want to learn a new profession.

Pages

Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

NRO Polls on LockerDome

Subscribe to National Review