And another child grows up to be somebody you'd just love to burn ...


I have a new "Think Again" column here called "Liberals and Veterans: Welcome Back."

This defense of Ronald Reagan is clownishly foolish. First of all, the author thinks he can dispose of an argument simply by saying "enough," and then making an unsupported assertion. I suppose this passes for argument in certain quadrants of the blogosphere, but to anyone even remotely serious about argumentation via evidence, it reeks of almost-intentional self-mockery. Second, his point itself is irrelevant. I couldn't care less whether Ronald Reagan was or was not a "racist" -- whatever that means -- and neither should you. What matters is whether Reagan was willing to exploit and, indeed, encourage racism in support of his political agenda. This is where the crux of the argument lies, and I think, to give credit where credit is due, Bob Herbert and Paul Krugman get the better of David Brooks on this point, as Brooks is also focused on personality, something in which he revels in his fan letter to John McCain here and which I find intellectually offensive. Bush was someone pundits wanted to "have a beer with," and he is the worst president ever. I can't find it now, but Jake Weisberg once made a similarly explicit point about his willingness to ignore McCain's actual politics when it comes to Iraq because he is such a fine fellow. ... It's pathetic. But what's not only pathetic but also funny is National Review's record of being pro-racism (and explicitly anti-democratic) back in the day when the question of equal rights for black people actually hung in the balance. Check this out.

Quote of the Day: "The central question that emerges ... is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes -- the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists. ... National Review believes that the South's premises are correct. ... It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority."

National Review, unsigned editorial from August 24, 1957, titled "Why the South Must Prevail."

Speaking of both race and The New York Times, this profile of the late, troubled Gerald Boyd is really exquisite, and I highly recommend it. One thing, however: Anybody else find this passage absolutely impossible to believe?

Later that day, Boyd told Zachary that he was leaving the Times to do something else. The 6-year-old burst into tears. "How could you leave?" he wailed. "The Times is a public trust!"

Also speaking of the Times, if I knew more about climate change, I like to think I would be able to write posts like this one by David Roberts. Read it, please, and I suggest bookmarking the site, which I just discovered this morning.

Sorry, but this may be the most disgusting headline ever, ever, ever.

From TomDispatch:

As Jonathan Schell points out, for the Bush administration the path to the present crisis in Pervez Musharraf's Pakistan began on September 11, 2001, when the Pakistani intelligence chief, Lt. General Mahmood Ahmed, who happened to be in Washington, "was summoned forthwith to meet with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who gave him perhaps the earliest preview of the global Bush doctrine then in its formative stages, telling him, 'You are either one hundred percent with us or one hundred percent against us.'" The next day, the administration presented Pakistan with a list of demands. "Conspicuously missing," writes Schell, "was any requirement to rein in the activities of Mr. A.Q. Khan, the 'father' of Pakistan's nuclear arms, who, with the knowledge of Washington, had been clandestinely hawking the country's nuclear-bomb technology around the Middle East and North Asia for some years."

For an administration that would base its future war policy on nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands, this would prove a fateful oversight whose end point we have not yet reached. Since his famed bestselling book The Fate of the Earth in the early 1980s, Schell has been our foremost chronicler of the global nuclear dilemma and his latest book, The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger, is just now being published. As he makes clear in this post, the Bush Doctrine, with its "disarmament wars" and its with-us or against-us nuclear thinking, has been a singular catastrophe of our age. The present disintegrating situation in nuclear-armed Pakistan only emphasizes the degree of the catastrophe. As he writes, "What has failed in Pakistan, as in smashed Iraq, is not just a regional American policy, but the pillars and crossbeams of the entire global Bush doctrine, as announced in late 2001."

In this striking post on an event still unfolding, Schell concludes: "Most important, the collapsed doctrine has stoked the nuclear fires it was meant to quench. The dangers of nuclear terrorism, of proliferation, and even of nuclear war... are all on the rise. The imperial solution to these perils has failed. Something new is needed, not just for Pakistan or Iraq, but for the world."


William F. Buckley, Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription: Notes & Asides from National Review

Speaking of National Review, I continue to have a real soft spot for Bill Buckley despite all of the above, and despite the fact that he has twice (!) published our private correspondence, and once in doing so, hurt my mother's feelings. (Remember I am a Jewish boy. That is pretty serious business.) In any case, this big book of letters received by the magazine over the past 40 years -- all published in the "Notes & Asides" section for unorthodox letters to the editor -- thankfully does not include any of our exchanges. Aside from topics of the day from 1960s to present, there are also letters from Reagan, Thatcher, Milton Friedman, Charlton Heston, and other conservative icons. Perfect for your bathroom, regardless of politics. The Amazon link for the book is here.

I also want to recommend the new collection Portraits and Observations: The Essays of Truman Capote.

This Random House volume is the first ever to be devoted solely to Capote's essays. From early travel sketches of Brooklyn, New York, and Hollywood to an essay he wrote the day before he died, the book contains every essay Capote wrote. There are also unpublished essays and portraits of Humphrey Bogart and Isak Dinesen. I just saw the second of those Capote movies, and here is the proof of the pudding that In Cold Blood was not a one-shot deal, as if such a thing were possible, together with the evidence of the talent he spent most of the rest of his life wasting. These essays are invaluable for the historian and extremely enjoyable for everyone else. The Amazon link for the book is here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Fergus


Dr. A,

I wish I could share your enthusiasm for Newsweek's selection of a commenter, but I fear Mr. Moulitsas was hired more for his dedication to deriding Sen. Clinton than for any liberal viewpoint he brings to the scene. This is not to say that he *won't* provide excellent and incisive liberal analysis on the elections as such, but to think he was hired for anything other than his strident opposition to Hillary Clinton (and the expected negative stories) ignores the way in which the illiberal MSM approaches all things Clinton.

The meta-story frame for the 2008 elections is how can we beat this woman? Regardless of who you support, that is the prism through which every act and word is judged. Those who do support Sen. Clinton are condemned as biased and corrupt, while those who do not are praised as independent and honorable.

Whether Mr. Moulitsas lives up (or down, depending on how you judge such things) to Newsweek's expectations will be interesting to see.

Name: Jason

Hometown: St Louis

Thank you so much for getting in Andy's face about that stupid Clinton remark. Every other post is Clinton lies, Clinton cheats, blah blah blah. I swear I would almost think he was for her because his incessant whining, smears and single handed effort to make her the divisive focus of his posts has almost driven me completely into her camp.

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