Archive for July 2006

Pennsylvania Politics

July 24, 2006

Republicans despairing of Rick Santorum’s re-election prospects — he’s still trailing Bob Casey Jr. by double-digits — have been looking hopefully toward gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann. But George Will has his doubts.

The Washington Post‘s Jim VandeHei, meanwhile, takes a look at Republicans’ odds in the Northeast generally.

Not-Quite-Live Blogging

July 23, 2006

I’ve just arrived in Auburn, Alabama (home of the Ludwig von Mises Institute), where I’ll be attending the “Commerce and Culture” seminar with Paul Cantor this week. At spare moments in the evenings, I’ll post some thoughts on the lectures.

I didn’t have the chance to get through everything on the recommended reading list, but the volumes I did read — The Economy of Literary Form by Lee Erickson, Tyler Cowen’s In Praise of Commercial Culture, Frederic Spotts’s engrossing Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, and Mises’s Anti-Capitalistic Mentality — were all well worthwhile. I’d recommend any of them. (Cowen can be reductionist in places, particularly when he’s discussing what he calls “cultural pessmists” — i.e., anyone who thinks that there’s something seriously wrong with high and low culture today — but as a primer on the economics that make culture possible, the book is valuable indeed.)

It’s been a few years since I read Professor Cantor’s own Gilligan Unbound, but time hasn’t eroded any of my admiration for the work. It’s a penetrating look at the social and cultural significance of four American television series (“Gilligan’s Island,” “Star Trek,” “The Simpsons,” and “The X-Files) emblematic of their eras. The book should have garnered a great deal more attention; unfortunately, it was released early in September 2001. (Sept. 10, if I recall…)

(Here’s a very brief Nick Gillespie interview with Cantor. And here’s Cantor on irony after 9/11.)

Taft in Pictures

July 22, 2006

I’ll write up a few notes on the Taft Club meeting from Thursday sooner or later, but in the meantime here are David Weigel‘s photos of the event.

U.S. Soldiers Ask Rumsfeld If They Could Get a Surprise Visit From Loved Ones Instead

July 21, 2006

Once again, the Onion gets at truths the non-satirical press can’t.

BAGHDAD—Although U.S. troops in Iraq said they appreciated President Bush’s recent surprise visit, thousands of them have petitioned the White House to arrange surprise visits from relatives and spouses as well. … An estimated two-thirds of American military personnel in Iraq have signed the petition, with the other third saying that Iraq is still far too dangerous a place for anyone’s loved ones to spend any time.

Who’s Right? What’s Left? Does it Matter?

July 21, 2006

The summer issue of The American Conservative went to press yesterday, and it’s a doozy. To give readers maximum value over our break (it’ll be four weeks before the next issue rather than the usual two), we’ve made this one a special symposium issue asking contributors from across the political spectrum to tell us what they think “conservatism” and “liberalism” mean today and whether the Left / Right spectrum is still a useful construct.

Thirty contributors in all, with pieces ranging from 450 to 1100 words. Who’s in it? Andrew Bacevich, Jeremy Beer, Austin Bramwell, Patrick Buchanan, John Derbyshire, Ross Douthat, Rod Dreher, Mary Eberstadt, Nick Gillespie, Paul Gottfried, Jeffrey Hart, Nick von Hoffman, Michael Lind, John Lukacs, Scott McConnell, Heather Mac Donald, Kevin Phillips, James Pinkerton, Justin Raimondo, Lew Rockwell, Claes Ryn, Kirkpatrick Sale, Phyllis Schlafly, Fred Siegel, Taki Theodoracopulos, Philip Weiss, Chilton Williamson, Clyde Wilson, and John Zmirak. (Plus one more I’m having difficulty remembering off the top of my head.)

Postscript: James Kurth was the one I was forgetting.

Riding Rough Over the Constitution

July 20, 2006

The new — August 2006 — issue of Chronicles includes my review of two recent books about Theodore Roosevelt, James R. Holden’s Theodore Roosevelt and World Order and Patricia O’Toole’s When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House. But don’t buy the mag just for that: the same issue also has John Lukacs’s “Thoughts on Socialism,” Donald Livingston’s critique of the centralized “night-watchman state,” and Clark Stooksbury’s review of Lynn Vincent’s and Robert Stacy McCain’s Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party, as well as a great deal more.

Neocons: Bush Isn’t Belligerent Enough

July 19, 2006

When I saw the Washington Post headline “Conservative Anger Grows Over Bush’s Foreign Policy,” I foolishly assumed that the article might have to something to do with the chorus of realists and antiwar conservatives who have long been critical of the president. No, no — the conservatives that the Washington Post cares about are the ones who don’t think Bush is aggressive enough in trying to democratize the world. This is what Paul Gottfried means when he says that for all the hostility the mainstream media shower upon neoconservatives, they still prefer to make them the spokespersons for conservatism rather than anyone of an older strain. (The article does, fleetingly, mention William F. Buckley’s and George Will’s reservations about the administration’s bellicose utopianism.)