Now ask this question: In this rebirth of the United States, in this American renaissance, who proved truly indispensable? Who passed Sidney Hook's test? My own list includes just three names: For giving conservative principles unassailable academic rigor, Milton Friedman. For deploying these principles in the realm of practical politics, Ronald Reagan. And for introducing conservatism into public discourse—insistently, unapologetically, and with utterly irresistible bravura—William F. Buckley, Jr.
Friday, February 29, 2008
The Katrina of All Potemkin Fences
Thursday, February 28, 2008
In a famous exchange with Gore Vidal in 1968, Vidal said to Buckley: "As far as I am concerned, the only crypto Nazi I can think of is yourself."
Buckley replied: "Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto Nazi, or I'll sock you in your goddamn face and you'll stay plastered."
Years later, in 1985, Buckley said of the incident: "We both acted irresponsibly. I'm not a Nazi, but he is, I suppose, a fag."
When asked if he had "referred to Jesse Jackson as an ignoramus," Buckley said, "If I didn't, I should have."
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008)
I'm devastated to report that our dear friend, mentor, leader, and founder William F. Buckley Jr., died this morning in his study in Stamford, Connecticut.
He died while at work; if he had been given a choice on how to depart this world, I suspect that would have been exactly it. At home, still devoted to the war of ideas.
As you might expect, we'll have much more to say here and in NR in the coming days and weeks and months. For now: Thank you, Bill. God bless you, now with your dear Pat. Our deepest condolences to Christopher and the rest of the Buckley family. And our fervent prayer that we continue to do WFB's life's work justice.
Economist Brian Wesbury says the Fed is in denial about rising prices. I think he's right.
Here's another problem. The Fed is going to be easing interest rates in the teeth of $950 gold and $101 oil! This can't make any sense to the average Main Street Joe out there.
At the end of the day, the job of the Fed is to stabilize the level of prices, or at least to keep the increase in the price level to less than 2 percent. But the yearly changes are way, way above 2 percent.
And using the so-called core inflation rate (which excludes food and energy) simply makes no sense over longer periods of time. In other words, core prices from month to month, and quarter to quarter, may be useful guides for the Fed, but they are no longer useful over periods of 12 months or longer. The rise of inflation, measured as a 12-month change, is truly significant over the past 4 months. It's a problem.
The Fed should stop easing right now, and it should maintain that posture until commodity prices start falling.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Meteorologist Anthony Watts compiled the results of all the sources. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year time. For all sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.
Scientists quoted in a past DailyTech article link the cooling to reduced solar activity which they claim is a much larger driver of climate change than man-made greenhouse gases. The dramatic cooling seen in just 12 months time seems to bear that out. While the data doesn't itself disprove that carbon dioxide is acting to warm the planet, it does demonstrate clearly that more powerful factors are now cooling it.
Britain is experiencing the worst "brain drain" of any country as highly qualified professionals settle abroad, an authoritative international study showed yesterday.
Record numbers of Britons are leaving - many of them doctors, teachers and engineers - in the biggest exodus for almost 50 years.
There are now 3.247 million British-born people living abroad, of whom more than 1.1 million are highly-skilled university graduates, say the researchers.
More than three quarters of these professionals have settled abroad for more than 10 years, according to the study by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
No other nation is losing so many qualified people, it points out. Britain has now lost more than one in 10 of its most skilled citizens, while overall only Mexico has had more people emigrate.
Monday, February 25, 2008
It's one of his funniest campaign jokes, getting huge laughs, but it underscores what could be absolutely crucial to Barack Obama's White House hopes: the fact that some Republicans secretly back him.
"There's one right there, an 'Obamacan,' that's what we call them," the Democratic senator declared last week after winning primary contests for his party's presidential nomination in Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia.
"They whisper to me. They say, 'Barack, I'm a Republican, but I support you.' And I say, 'Thank you. Why are we whispering?'"
Obama has cracked the joke in every campaign speech since his win in Iowa on January 3. He tells it with a stage whisper into the mike, and can get a stadium packed with 16,000 supporters to burst out laughing.
But the point is not just to warm up the crowd: Obama is also underscoring that he has the ability to win the presidential vote, and then to govern effectively, transcending partisan strains, unlike his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who is reviled by conservatives.
The L.A. Times' natty Mark Z. Barabak has a front-pager on Republicans for Obama - what the senator calls "Obamacans": "The support has not come unbidden. Throughout his campaign, Obama has been appealing to Republicans even as he battles Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York for the Democratic nomination. Obama's first TV ad in Iowa featured a GOP lawmaker from Illinois touting Obama's ability to work with Republicans."
Saturday, February 23, 2008
By prohibiting speech by anyone else, the campaign-finance laws have vastly magnified the power of the media -- which, by the way, are wholly exempt from speech restrictions under campaign-finance laws. The New York Times doesn't have to buy ad time to promote a politician; it just has to call McCain a "maverick" 1 billion times a year.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
It seems possible and even likely that a victory by Barack Obama would be the climax of this long policy of fully integrating black and minority America into the nation and putting the querulous politics of race behind us. As I have argued elsewhere, the mere fact of a President Obama would strengthen and stabilize America just as a Polish pope undermined Soviet rule in Eastern Europe. Black and minority America would be fully integrated into the nation as the British working class was fully integrated into the British political nation by George V. Americans would feel better about themselves and the world would feel very differently about America. The conservative interest, as defined above, would therefore smile upon a vote for Obama.
Notice that this analysis does not depend upon the actual policies pursued by Obama. It is the fact of an Obama presidency that would be a long step towards national cohesion. That fact is enhanced by Obama's rhetoric of one nation. But what if Obama's actual policies weaken this cohesion? Since he seems to favor more or less open immigration, multiculturalism, bilingual education, racial preferences, and other policies that emphasize and reward ethnic division, he might well obstruct and delay the overcoming of race that his presidency symbolizes and contradict the rhetoric of one nation used by Obama to such good effect with voters of all races. Obama's proposed policies therefore open a line of attack for Republicans to exploit. Unfortunately for the GOP, John McCain takes almost exactly the same position on these "National Question" issues as Obama — without having the Democrat's symbolic or rhetorical appeal.
The NRA and the ACLU both can't buy ad time in the days before an election because doing so, by virtue of the ethical senator's own philosophy, is manipulating the people and hurting democracy. But when McCain hops a flight with a campaign contributor, it ought to be obvious that he's maintaining his integrity. Why is it that associations comprised of every day citizens are suspect, but a powerful politician is not?
Sure, it's a bait and switch. But it's a very good one because it demonstrates the very problem presented by the John McCain School of Ethics. This is not a story about what happened. It's a story about what could have happened. What was feared to have happened. What, it must be assumed in good faith, did not happen. Campaign advisers were afraid that "the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity."
While it's clear that supporters and passers-by will dismiss the Times report as overblown in its importance (and, of course, heap onto theTimes for being incautious about its use of sources), the dredging up of areal ethics flap will not help a man who has made ethics a cornerstone of his campaign. But the story might have a few positive effects after all.
Conservatives will likely rally for McCain. McCain will have the opportunity to show just how comfortable he is with transparency and talk to the press in a way that Americans will appreciate. He'll have a chance to highlight his record as a reformer in Congress. And the New York Times's public editor, Clark Hoyt, will have a very entertaining column attempting to explain what happened.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
It's hard to deliver a wake-up call for a civilization so determined to smother the alarm clock in the soft fluffy pillow of multiculturalism and sleep in for another 10 years. The folks who call my book "alarmist" accept that the Western world is growing more Muslim (Canada's Muslim population has doubled in the last 10 years), but they deny that this population trend has any significant societal consequences. Sharia mortgages? Sure. Polygamy? Whatever. Honour killings? Well, okay, but only a few. The assumption that you can hop on the Sharia Express and just ride a couple of stops is one almighty leap of faith. More to the point, who are you relying on to "hold the line"? Influential figures like the Archbishop of Canterbury? The bureaucrats at Ontario Social Services? The Western world is not run by fellows noted for their line-holding: look at what they're conceding now and then try to figure out what they'll be conceding in five years' time.
NBC News said Tuesday it has reprimanded the employee responsible for mistakenly flashing a picture of Osama bin Laden on MSNBC as Chris Matthews talked about Barack Obama.This is sort of funny. You can expect lots of Republicans to make this sort of honest mistake. Even a real supporter like Ted Kennedy might get mixed up from time to time.
"This mistake was inexcusable," MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said.
It happened during the opening of "Hardball" Monday evening. Matthews was previewing a story on the controversy over Obama's use of another politician's words, and a picture of bin Laden briefly flashed on the screen beside him with the headline "Words About Words."
The Obama campaign immediately called NBC to complain, and Matthews apologized on the air a few minutes later. When "Hardball" was rerun later that night, a picture of Obama replaced the picture of theterrorist leader.
The mistake was made by someone in the network's graphics department whom MSNBC would not identify. The network did not explain exactly how the mistake was made nor detail the punishment for the employee.
After 10 consecutive defeats — including a heartbreaker in tailor-made Wisconsin on Tuesday — Hillary Rodham Clinton can't win the nomination unless Obama makes a major mistake or her allies reveal something damaging about the Illinois senator's background. Don't count her out quite yet, but Wisconsin revealed deep and destructive fractures in the Clinton coalition.
Monday, February 18, 2008
The word on the street is that the Obama campaign and New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg have already met and devised an incredible plan if Clinton wins the nominee. Mayor Bloomberg would give nearly $1 billion to Obama's campaign after which Obama would bolt from the Democratic Party and run as an Independent candidate with king-maker Bloomberg as his running mate. The Obama campaign realizes that Obama is too new at this game and doesn't have the political weight of the Clintons to bring in the true heavy-hitters of the party's hierarchy. So, according to sources it was Bloomberg himself who suggested this cunning strategy. It's mind boggling that the Clintons are willing to destroy the entire Democratic Party, and potentially in the process lose the White House and seats in Congress, for their own selfish thirst for power and glory.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
However, there is now a way to break OPEC, a surprisingly simple one. What is needed is for Congress to pass a law requiring that all new cars sold (not just made, but sold) in the U.S. be flex-fueled — that is, be able to run on any combination of gasoline or alcohol fuels. Such cars already exist — two dozen different models of flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) are being produced by Detroit's Big Three this year — and they only cost about $100 more than identical models that can run on gasoline only. (The switch to FFV requires only two minor upgrades: in the materials used in the fuel line and in the software controlling the electronic fuel injector.)
Such a development would also create a market that would mobilize tens of billions of dollars of private investment into techniques for the production of cellulosic ethanol and other advanced alcohol fuels. Those investments will further reduce the price of alcohol fuels and will radically expand America's and our allies' potential resource base (although methanol already can be produced from any kind of biomass, without exception, as well as coal, natural gas, and urban trash).
Instead of financing terrorism, we could be funding world development. Instead of selling controlling blocks of Citibank or CNN to Saudi princes, we could be selling tractors to Africa. That is the way to win the war on terror.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Conservatives and McCain should neither pretend that we have no differences nor obsess about those differences. We should instead work on the common task of building a center-right majority in this election year and future ones, each appreciating that the other will play a different role in that task. So we ask the senator, and his conservative supporters and critics: Any takers?
Since 9/11, approximately three things have potentially improved airline security: reinforcing the cockpit doors, passengers realizing they have to fight back and -- possibly -- sky marshals. Everything else -- all the security measures that affect privacy -- is just security theater and a waste of effort. [...]
If you set up the false dichotomy, of course people will choose security over privacy -- especially if you scare them first. But it's still a false dichotomy. There is no security without privacy. And liberty requires both security and privacy. The famous quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin reads: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." It's also true that those who would give up privacy for security are likely to end up with neither.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Senator Barack Obama racked up his fourth decisive victory this weekend, winning the Maine caucuses on Sunday, as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton replaced her campaign manager and longtime aide in the biggest shakeup of her campaign to date. [...]
Obama is cruising to victories and showing a lot of confidence. He's not afraid to take on the Clintons. It's time for Hillary to get tough, but what can she do? I don't think Maggie Williams is going to be the answer. Unless she gets Al Gore to endorse her (which seems almost impossible), she will not get the nomination. It's time for Obama to start thinking about his VP selections. He absolutely will not offer it to Hillary. He knows that she carries too much baggage and that Bill would be a huge distraction during the campaign.
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama intensified his criticisms of Mrs. Clinton — and her husband — saying that when Mr. Clinton was president Democrats lost at every level of government and that Mrs. Clinton could not bridge the nation's political divide.
"Senator Clinton starts off with 47 percent of the country against her," he said in response to a question in Alexandria. "That's a hard place to start."
Mr. Obama said the Clintons had been unable to assemble a working majority in Congress in the 1990s, when Mr. Clinton was president.
"She's a smart person, she's a capable person, she would be a vast improvement over the incumbent," he said in response to a question at a rally with 3,000 people, with 1,200 more listening in an overflow room. "What is also true is, I think it's very hard for Senator Clinton to break out of the politics of the last 15 years."
Mr. Obama said the country was divided politically, with about 47 percent on each side and the rest in the middle and that Mrs. Clinton would be unable to bring people together.
"Keep in mind, we had Bill Clinton as president when, in '94, we lost the House, we lost the Senate, we lost governorships, we lost state houses," he said. "And so, regardless of what policies they wanted to promote, they didn't have a working majority to bring change about."
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Here's Dr. Goklany's summary of what different policies can accomplish:
Halting climate change would reduce cumulative mortality from various climate-sensitive threats, namely, hunger, malaria, and coastal flooding, by 4–10 percent in 2085, while increasing populations at risk from water stress and possibly worsening matters for biodiversity. But according to cost information from the U.N. Millennium Program and the I.P.C.C., measures focused specifically on reducing vulnerability to these threats would reduce cumulative mortality from these risks by 50–75 percent at a fraction of the cost of reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs). Simultaneously, such measures would reduce major hurdles to the developing world's sustainable economic development, the lack of which is why it is most vulnerable to climate change.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Mrs. Clinton is losing this thing. It's not one big primary, it's a rolling loss, a daily one, an inch-by-inch deflation. The trends and indices are not in her favor. She is having trouble raising big money, she's funding her campaign with her own wealth, her moral standing within her own party and among her own followers has been dragged down, and the legacy of Clintonism tarnished by what Bill Clinton did in South Carolina. Unfavorable primaries lie ahead. She doesn't have the excitement, the great whoosh of feeling that accompanies a winning campaign. The guy from Chicago who was unknown a year ago continues to gain purchase, to move forward. For a soft little innocent, he's played a tough and knowing inside/outside game.
The day she admitted she'd written herself a check for $5 million, Obama's people crowed they'd just raised $3 million. But then his staff is happy. They're all getting paid.
Political professionals are leery of saying, publicly, that she is losing, because they said it before New Hampshire and turned out to be wrong. Some of them signaled their personal weariness with Clintonism at that time, and fear now, as they report, to look as if they are carrying an agenda. One part of the Clinton mystique maintains: Deep down journalists think she's a political Rasputin who will not be dispatched. Prince Yusupov served him cupcakes laced with cyanide, emptied a revolver, clubbed him, tied him up and threw him in a frozen river. When he floated to the surface they found he'd tried to claw his way from under the ice. That is how reporters see Hillary.
And that is a grim and over-the-top analogy, which I must withdraw. What I really mean is they see her as the Glenn Close character in "Fatal Attraction": "I won't be ignored, Dan!"
We're all Conservatives for Obama now!
Thursday, February 07, 2008
The Archbishop of Canterbury has today said that the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in the UK is "unavoidable" and that it would help maintain social cohesion.
Let's admit the concern: Some people predict that a President McCain will open the borders, close Guantanamo, and tie our policies to some false premises related to global warming. We hope he doesn't, but even critics must admit it is just as likely — if not more so — that his legacy will be the following: He pursued al-Qaeda to the ends of the Earth and vanquished them; he cut deficit spending and vetoed pork-barrel spending over and over again; he appointed four good justices to the Supreme Court; and he reinvigorated a sense of thoughtful patriotism, citizenship, and unselfish devotion to the Republic.
Senator John McCain has a great deal to recommend him. He has a great deal more to offer the country, and it is our sincere hope that, as we move toward the general election, more and more people will see that. In the interim, it is our equal hope that Senator McCain will take the next several months to build his support among conservative doubters within our party. We deserve that, too, so that — come September — we will all be confident we have nominated the right man.
We have endorsed no candidate in our party as of yet, but we wholeheartedly unendorse any notion that either Senator John McCain or Governor Mitt Romney will ruin the party, the movement, or, for that matter, the election. They are both heads and shoulders above would-be presidents Senator Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, and once we see the whole record, and these men in the totality of their careers and records, we will, we pray, realize that.
The problem is that McCain has a number of factors working against him, including his own long career of hostility toward the people he needs to win the general election. If you can't consolidate and motivate your base, you will not win the presidency. It has been his strategy to distance himself in numerous and provocative ways from his own party. He has used the tactic of alienation to pander to constituencies outside the party. And he has been so prominent and antagonistic in the execution of his strategy that it's difficult to see how he can overcome his own record. This is one of the reasons why many of us have opposed him from the start, i.e., he will likely be an unelectable stand-bearer and a drain on the rest of the ticket. To say, from one's computer keyboard, that the Reagan coalition should unify behind McCain to prevent the specter of a Clinton or Obama presidency is, I believe, wishful thinking. Even here, where the smartest minds are trying to make the case, some use the perverse argument that Reagan wasn't all that conservative anyway, and that's a reason to back McCain. Not only does this defy history, but it offends those who lived through that history and were shaped by it. Moreover, Republican voters won't buy it. McCain is sitting on a one-legged stool, having broken the two other legs.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
There seems to be a major misunderstanding among some Republican loyalists about the opposition to McCain. First, let's get this straight: I'm a conservative who happens to be a Republican because the party of Reagan was closest to my views. The party doesn't own me. If they don't work for conservative causes and govern as conservatives, then they will lose my vote. I supported Bush even when he slapped me in the face with his compassionate policies on prescription drugs and amnesty for illegal aliens because the war on terror was the most important issue for me. Perhaps, it's better to say that Bush had the right enemies, even if he didn't always have the right policies. John McCain has the wrong enemies (conservatives) and the wrong friends (Feingold, Kennedy, etc.), and he'll still have the wrong policies. So if the Republicans want him as their candidate, I no longer want them as my party. I can't win either way so why support the guy who hates me for who I am? We survived four years with Jimmy Carter, which lead to Ronald Reagan's historic victory. I think we can manage with Hillary or Obama for a term while we regroup. A McCain failure will do more good for the country in the long run than his victory would.
I am not impugning anyone's motives. I believe I have a reasonable understanding of principled behavior. But if your goal is to see the country punished because---
You can stop right there. If your goal is to see America punished, and her people open to attack and/or ruined financially in order to prove a point for any reason, then you do not deserve politial power nor are you likely to achieve it. A party is a compact. It is, essentially, a pleage of mutual support. As a matter of fact, it's nothing more or less than a promise.
A political party is a series of personal compromises in order to achieve a goal unattainable by the perfect political party: one's own self. If McCain is the legal and lawfully selected nominee, and Republicans decide to walk away from their party in droves, what makes them think they will be able to count on those who, you know, actually went out and voted Republican either joyfully or through clenched teeth, in order to prevent The Deluge?
It is clear that pragmatism or expediency is not seen as a sin greater than erroneous conviction, in the sense that it is to be understandable that Romney had to do or say some liberal things in blue-Boston to get elected, but that McCain did them willingly when he did not have to in red Arizona. Or maybe it is the magnitude of the sin (McCain-Feingold is felt worse than once being pro-choice and distancing oneself from Reagan)? Or perhaps the chronology of the sin (the 1990s were then, 2007 is now)?
Either way it doesn't really matter anymore, the McCain animus is deeply ingrained and apparently can't be retracted. It only makes things worse either to attack sincere anti-McCainites or to ask them to reconsider, or to ask them to vote for the lesser of what they see as the two evils.
As they say, the die has been cast, and everyone will have to live with the results.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Rush Limbaugh has been relentless in his criticism of John McCain, prompting suggestions that he may have to soften his stance if the Arizona senator wins the nomination and faces off against Hillary Clintonor Barack Obama. But if that happens, Limbaugh said in an interview over the weekend, he would rather see the Democrats win the White House.
"If I believe the country will suffer with either Hillary, Obama or McCain, I would just as soon the Democrats take the hit . . . rather than a Republican causing the debacle," he said. "And I would prefer not to have conservative Republicans in the Congress paralyzed by having to support, out of party loyalty, a Republican president who is not conservative."
When it comes to the McCain mutiny, Limbaugh has plenty of company on the right side of the dial. Laura Ingraham endorsed Mitt Romney last week, saying, "There is no way in hell I could pull the lever for John McCain." Sean Hannity, who also endorsed the former Massachusetts governor, regularly rips McCain. Hugh Hewitt is urging the audience for his syndicated radio show to fight for Romney against what he calls a media-generated "McCain resurrection." But with a program heard on 600 stations, including Washington's WMAL, Limbaugh is the loudest and brashest voice inveighing against the man he derides as "Saint John of Arizona."
Limbaugh dismissed the notion that a McCain victory would be a "personal setback" for him. "My success is not defined by who wins elections," he said. "Elected officials come and go. I am here for as long as I wish to stay. . . ."
Saturday, February 02, 2008
The Islamists are rich in oil. We are rich in coal and biomass. If we want to win against them, we need to take action that increases the value of our resources while decreasing the value of theirs. Coal and biomass can both easily be turned into alcohol fuels. But the cars on the road today can't use alcohol fuels. By making it a standard that any car sold in the USA be flex fueled — i.e. capable of running on either alcohol or gasoline — we will make flex fuel the international standard, and force gasoline to compete at the pump against alcohol everywhere in the world. In doing so, we will open the world fuel market up to what WE have, not just what THEY have. That's how we win. If we don't do that, they will win.
So it comes down to this: Who do you want to win, us or them?