Scott Rubush is a recovering journalist living in West Chester, PA. He is a native of York, PA, and grew up in Cary, NC. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Scott has an extensive background in writing and politics. He is Publisher Emeritus of Carolina Review, and a former associate editor of the Los Angeles-based website FrontPageMagazine.com. He currently works as a grant-writer for an educational foundation in Wilmington, Del.
:: Friday, March 29, 2002 ::
Rubush to Leave Public Life, Quit Civil Society
Frustrated LA Journalist Laments Progress, Complains of Stress
Internet journalist Scott Rubush shocked fans today when he announced plans to quit civil society, and live in a tent in a remote corner of the Mojave Desert.
“I give up,” he said. “It’s just too much. Going to work, keeping up a Blog…I can’t handle it any more!”
Rubush announced plans to take up residence on the banks of the Salton Sea, southeast of Palm Springs, where he will spend his days reading books, hiking in the nearby mountains, and fishing for food.
While fans were left speechless, long-time Rubush watchers were less surprised. They noted that Rubush has failed to make any significant progress in achieving his major goals in life.
“Scott’s a total failure,” said one market analyst on a condition of anonymity. “We can go right down the list—Has he found the woman of his dreams? Nope. Has he landed that cool job in Europe? Nope. Has he changed the world? Hell no. The guy’s 23 years old, and he hasn’t even written the Great American Novel yet.
“Leaving civilization behind and taking up a hunter-gatherer lifestyle will be a huge improvement for Scott.”
Upon hearing the analyst’s remarks, a tearful Rubush admitted, “It’s true! It’s all true! I’m a complete fraud! I’ll never amount to anything!”
“Heck, I finished dead last in my own NCAA pool. Dead last!”
Eugene Volokh, host of the recent LA Blogger Bash, has an excellent piece about surveillance cameras in today's Wall Street Journal. (If you subscribe to the Journal, click here to read it; otherwise, head out to the newsstand and pick up a hard copy.) Volokh takes on the myth that these increasingly-ubiquitous devices are the hallmark of a Big Brother State that has no regard whatsoever for individual liberties. Writes Volokh:
To start, the problem isn't privacy. These cameras are in public places, where people's faces and cars are visible to everyone. The camera that caught me [running a red light] saw only what any passerby, and any police officer who might have been at the intersection, could lawfully see. Nor is this an "unreasonable search and seizure," in the words of the Fourth Amendment: The Supreme Court has recognized that observing things in plain public view isn't a "search" at all, much less an unreasonable one.
Volokh concedes that these cameras have some potential for abuse, and argues that we should take steps to keep politicians and corrupt police officers from abusing these potentially useful tools:
If you think that there are very many, and that law enforcement is fundamentally corrupt, you should oppose any extra tools for the police, since in your perspective the tools would more likely be used for ill than for good. But I don't take so dim a view. I think that for all its faults, law enforcement is filled mostly with decent people. And more importantly, good law enforcement is vitally necessary to the safety of citizens, of all classes and races. Instead of denying potentially useful tools to the police, we should think about what control mechanisms we can set up to make abuse less likely. And we should recognize that some surveillance tools can themselves decrease the risk of government abuse rather than increase it.
All in all, this is a very cogent, level-headed response to the reflexive civil libertarians who kick, scream, and throw copies of 1984 any time the government cracks down on crime. It's definitely worth reading, even if it means going out and finding a hard copy of today's Journal.
I can't help but feel a tad guilty tonight as I savor the Casaterra Malbec (1999) from Argentina's Mendoza province. That country is in the midst of a horrible currency crisis, which has wiped out the savings of millions of its people, leaving them in grinding poverty. Meanwhile, Argentine exports sell at rock bottom prices as a result of a deflated peso. That explains why I was able to find this bottle for just $2.99 at Trader Joe's a few weeks back. So really, thanks to the intricacies of global currency markets, I am oppressing the meek and the downtrodden of that benighted country with every sip I take.
Buahahahaha! Excuse me while I go put on my tophat and fire up a cigar with a $100 bill.
Okay, friends, now that I've laid that out, let me tell you about Casaterra's Malbec. It's very good. It has a very smooth, polished taste, with hints of berries and oak. That probably means this wine was produced by diligent little child laborers toiling away for meager sums of worthless Argentine pesos. Ah, their tiny little fingers make the grapes they pick so tasty...
Anyway, I've got about, oh, three more glasses left in this bottle, but otherwise that's it for the Wine of the Week feature here at SR.com! Today is Palm Sunday, which means Holy Week is upon us and Lent will be drawing to a close. Thanks for indulging me this little feature each Sunday night for the past six weeks. There's probably no person in the world who's less qualified to talk about wine than I am, but hey...we're on blogger! Anyone can do this stuff, right?
But before we draw the Wine of the Week feature to a close, you'll recall that I purchased five bottles of Wine during my shopping spree at Trader Joe's a few weeks ago. And if you've been reading closely, you'll notice that I've only uncorked three of them. What are we gonna do with the other two bottles?
I'm gonna ship those off to Kepple this week. You'll recall that Kepple is drinking himself blind with fortified wine because he recently moved New Hampshire, where they don't have things like Casaterra's Malbec. So, God willing, Kepple will receive, in time for Easter:
--Springwood Cabernet Sauvignon (2000) from Australia
--San Andres Cabernet Sauvignon (2001) from Chile.
In the meantime, you can contribute to the Wine for Kepple Fund by clicking here.
Ok, I've got some wine to drink...catch ya later...
Scott 12:28 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, March 23, 2002 ::
Pat Buchanan is a Raving, Anti-Semitic Nutjob, Part 1322
..."Bibi's Boys," those acolytes of the once-and-future Prime Minister "Bibi" Netanyahu. Their scribblings may be found, disguised as "conservative commentary," on op-ed pages of the major media and in National Review, Commentary, The New Republic and The Weekly Standard. Bibi's Boys have seized upon Sept. 11 as their last, best hope to morph America's war into Israel's war.
It’s tempting to dismiss this as sour grapes from a man who's now out of favor with the conservative establishment. But then Buchanan goes on to repeat the blame-America line that's now in fashion among Palestinian terrorists:
While Israel is indeed our ally in the war on terror, its annexations of Arab land, its dispossession of the Palestinian people, and its denial of their right to a homeland and state of their own on land their fathers farmed for a thousand years are a principal cause of this war and a primary reason why America's reputation has been ravaged in the Arab world.
So, Pat, did America's support for Israel cause the September 11 attacks as well?
Most people recognize what a lunatic Buchanan is, but it's alarming to see just how popular he remains, even after his laughable presidential runs and his vaguely pro-Hitler treatise, "A Republic, Not an Empire." Buchanan's articles still find their way into publication on popular conservative news sites, and his books continue to sell like hotcakes. ("Death of the West," his latest volume, currently sits at #53 on the Amazon bestseller list, after having shot to the top earlier this year.) Perhaps it makes good business sense to keep this man around, and certainly it would be counter-productive to suppress his ideas. But still, the right needs to make it crystal clear that this man has been cast from its ranks, and that his voice is not that of authentic American conservatism.
Let us count the reasons why the government should loosen its monopoly on mail service, and let private companies such as Fed Ex and UPS have their turn:
--E-mail, IM, and electronic bill payment have obliterated USPS's raison d'etre. When was the last time you received a casual letter via snail mail?
--USPS is staffed by incompetent grouches who are unemployable in the private sector. Where do you think the term "go postal" came from?
--USPS is a form of corporate welfare. It allows credit card companies, magazine publishers, and junk mailers to send massive amounts of mail at a price set well below fair market rate. It's time to cut them off, and make them pay their fair share.
And I could go on. But I've got bills to pay...electronically.
The Ashcroft Haters finally have shifted tactics in their war on the Attorney General, abandoning their hyperbolic ad hominem attacks and turning to humor instead. So I've gotta admit that this parody "Patriot Registration" form (via Ken Layne) is pretty funny. Score one for the left!
Scott 2:03 AM [+] ::
Someone hand John McCain his gold watch. Now that Dubya is set to sign Real Campaign Finance Reform ™ into law, maybe this sanctimonious busybody will leave us all alone, and spend his remaining days playing golf out in Scottsdale.
In the course of a "seven-year odyssey," as he put it yesterday, the former Navy fighter pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war has crusaded against unrestricted "soft money" donations to political parties…
How sad is that? This man began his life as a war hero, and slowly became a bureaucratic micromanager. Now he doesn’t even have that anymore. Talk about ending with a whimper…
You know, it really amazes me that so many people see something inspirational in John McCain. For me, it’s the exact opposite. I see him as someone to pity. Anyone who undertakes a “seven-year odyssey” to revise the nation’s election laws is an inherently disordered individual. I’d really feel sorry for him if he weren’t a living, breathing monument to the Beltway’s hyper-concern for the trivial. Sadly he’s just one more person who became less than the sum of his parts by going to Washington and becoming a government officeholder. Someone please buy this man a ticket back to Arizona, where he can swap war stories at the Legion hall--and perhaps regain some of the dignity he has lost during his time in the Senate.
I’m tempted to say that Bush should go ahead and veto this stinker of a bill. Bush, after all, has gone on record opposing this version of CFR. But on second though, Bush may be playing a shrewd game by signing this into law, and letting the courts do the dirty work of striking it down.
Consider: even if Bush vetoes CFR, the issue isn’t going to go away. There are simply too many “Good Government” types inside the Beltway who want this legislation to become law. In fact, it’s not uncommon for these wonks to spend eight or ten years moving bills such as this one from the think tanks and the back benches of congress to the president’s desk. And even then, a veto only tends to stop their persistent legislation for so long. So if Bush vetoes it now, it likely will come back for the next administration to sign into law. But, unlike a veto, which tends to delay legislation instead of killing it outright, a Supreme Court verdict is final. And it’s almost certain that CFR will go down in the courts--which is what Bush wants. So why shouldn’t he sign the bad bill, take credit for a populist “reform,” neutralize the McCainiacs, and still end up with the outcome he desires?
The SR.com odometer has rolled over and registered its 5000th unique visitor! Thanks, ya'll! And by the way, we're closing in on 10,000 total page views (as I type this, we're just 81 hits away from that milestone.) So thank you, again!
I'd love to see the Libertarian Party replace the Democrats as the major opposition to the GOP. With the exception of a few notable Southerners like Sen. Zell Miller (GA), the Democratic Party is a completely worthless organization that has brought absolutely nothing fresh to our nation's political discourse during my lifetime. You'd think that a party with Lyndon Johnson's social spending priorities and George McGovern's foreign policy would be a pushover for the Libertarians, who actually bring some decent ideas into the arena.
Raleigh-Durham Media: Reprinters of Press Releases
The media in my hometown, Raleigh, NC, are completely shameless about reprinting press releases from the local chamber of commerce. It's painful to pick up the News & Observer or watch WRAL and hear about how the Triangle Area is always on its way to becoming some place else. During the '90s, our local music scene was "the next Seattle," our economy was becoming "the next Silicon Valley," etc.
What's harder to count is how many years it has taken the Triangle to develop into a hot spot for hot sauces. But with two national awards going to locally made hot sauces within the past six months, the scene is as hot as a habanero for chileheads. And another Triangle entrepreneur is challenging the world record for heat with a new hybridized pepper.
Look at our hot sauce "scene," everybody! Two awards! You like us! You really like us!!
Look, I love Raleigh. I'd love it even more if it were content to be itself, instead of trying to become some far-off place it never was, and never will be.
He may not boast a major record of achievement, but his resemblance to a Hollywood star makes him an instantly credible presidential prospect. Not since Robert Redford ran a Senate race in the 1972 movie "The Candidate" has physical appearance played so central a role in a major campaign.
Medved's right: no more pretty boys in office, please. Although, I still think Edwards isn't quite ready for prime time, and that he'll get trounced if he tries running for the Oval Office in 2004.
Scott 2:19 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, March 20, 2002 ::
The Root Causes of Pedophilia?
How can Andrew Sullivan be so consistently wrong about Catholicism and human sexuality? Sullivan swings and misses again with his post on the pedophilia scandal within the Catholic Church. Writes Sullivan:
The pedophile scandal and the homosexual dimension of the priesthood are not the fundamental problem. They are symptoms of a deeper problem - male privilege and secrecy and hierarchy that distorts the psyches of the people running the Church and betrays the faithful who need and love it so much.
So, now are we going to start discussing the “root causes” of priestly pedophilia? C’mon, Andrew! Get a grip!
To the contrary, pedophilia--and to a lesser extent, its “homosexual dimension”—really is the issue here. A number of priests committed monstrous acts that violated the letter and spirit of scripture, along with 2000 years of Church teachings. This episode is so horrible precisely because it’s such a flagrant violation of what Christians believe. Now is the time to begin reaffirming those beliefs—not, as Sullivan suggests, to begin second-guessing them. The church can start by rooting out and excommunicating the offending priests, and then by issuing a vigorous defense of its teachings on sexuality and the priesthood.
The Catholic Church is a strong institution, and it’s time for its leaders to begin drawing on that strength. The last thing the Church needs is self-doubt and a weak will. This should be a time of moral clarity for the Church, and it should act with all due haste to punish those responsible for these horrible acts. Preening about “male privilege and secrecy and hierarchy” only dodges the issue at hand—namely the moral culpability of the gay, pedophile priests who scarred the youth of the church, and violated the trust of all its members. Let’s not allow side issues to distract us from the business of punishing these people and purging them from the ranks of the priesthood.
I think the hardest thing about quitting smoking was not the nicotine withdrawal (no more painful than a middling tough diet) -- it's that most of the best things that ever happened to me happened when I had a cigarette in my hand. It's not any particular time of day that I miss smoking, it's the moments: the perfect evening dress, waiting on a windy evening in autumn with your coat wrapped tight around you, and most of all the end of a hot summer afternoon as day trickles into dusk . . . they have lost some of their luster without that little piece of fire cupped in your hand.
Be that as it may, I still don't understand the appeal of cigarette smoking. Cigarettes taste like boot leather. How is it possible to get addicted to those damn things?
Now, before we go any further, let me mention that:
--I have deep ties to two tobacco states, North Carolina and Virginia. I grew up in the Tar Heel state, while I spent the summers of my childhood at my family's beach house on Chincoteague Island in the Old Dominion state. Nearly all my father's side of the family lives in Virginia, while my sister is a junior at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Let no one accuse me of blind, anti-tobacco prejudice.
--I own about $500 worth of Phillip Morris (NYSE: MO) stock—a huge percentage of my tiny, four-figure portfolio.
--I've gone on record in the past in support of other politically incorrect vices, such as alcohol consumption.
All that said, though, I still fail to see the appeal of cigarette smoking. I mean, if you really lust after a carcinogen-induced buzz, you can always go suck the tail pipe of a car. After all, it tastes about the same. The effects on your health aren't much different. And the tail pipe is a lot cheaper.
Granted, I can see a kernel of truth to Megan's argument. Having a little treat can turn an ordinary moment into something halcyon, something to savor and remember. For me it's coffee--be it on a Saturday morning while reading a book, or on a rainy afternoon with some Chopin as background music. At night, beer and wine have a similar effect. Not only do they taste good with food, but they elevate it and make it something special.
So, I'm all in support of life's simple pleasures. But cigarettes? C'mon. On the occasions I've tried smoking them, I've ended up nauseated or worse. Especially after drinking. A Marlboro red once made me vomit when I was completely sober; when I drink, cigarettes seem to compound the power of alcohol 100-fold. I could probably down a twelve-pack one night, go strong into the wee hours of the morning, then wake up fresh as the flowers the next day. But if I have one cigarette, I'm down for the count. Immediately. And boy, does it hurt the next morning. I suppose people get used to this, but how? Why do so many people torture themselves this way until they're hooked on a product that costs $1500 a year and shaves ten years off the end of their lives?
I just don't get it.
I've asked plenty of smokers to explain this to me, but I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer. Granted, Megan offers a link to a book about vice in general, but that's not my concern here. I'm just at a loss for why so many people find cigarettes appealing. So if someone could contact me with an explanation, it would help me see the world more clearly. And it might help me re-think my support for California's tough anti-smoking laws, my cynical profiteering off the plight of smokers, and the general contempt in which I hold this stinky, nasty habit. I thank you in advance for your comments and your insight.
Think about it. Ned Flanders, especially in the early episodes, was shown as a man who, because of his honesty and work ethic, always managed to have a nicer house, an easy to manage family, a wife with a higher butt, washboard abs, and generally a better overall life than Homer. Ned was always willing to help Homer at any instance, whether that be some cash, the loan of a power sander, or the invite to a BBQ.
Now consider how Homer reacts to all this. He resents the living hell out of Flanders. The nicer Flanders is to Homer, the more Homer hates him. After being invited to a great BBQ, Homer takes the first chance he can to wish Flanders' dreams of a Leftorium into oblivion. Homer constantly goes over and steals from the Flanders family from weather vanes to air conditioners. Yet Ned rarely loses his temper, always forgives, and always is ready to give more.
I'm not sure if there's any truth to this (though I suspect there is), but either way it's a great piece. Go check it out.
By the way, how cool a name is "Juan Gato"?
Scott 12:46 AM [+] ::
[Caveat Lector: I have already imbibed two glasses of this week's wine. Forgive me if I sound less than coherent in the following posts.]
Shout-outs are in order for my friend, fellow church-goer, and SR.com reader Robbie LaBelle, who has graciously provided The Wine of the Week for this fifth Sunday in Lent.
And what a great wine it is! Tonight we're drinking Rosemont Estate's Shiraz/Cabernet (2001) from Australia. It's yummy! Rosemont tastes dry, yet florid...goes well with that sheep's milk cheese I picked up at Trader Joe's the other week. It certainly erases bad memories of Barwang Cabernet, the other Australian wine we've sampled here at SR.com during Lent. In fact, it might be the best wine we've tasted since beginning the Wine of the Week feature. Espiral Dao was decent, and Signor Trinchero's cabernet was quite good, but this one seems to surpass them both. If nothing else, it's in medal contention for the top three wines of Lent.
And I need to stop typing before I finish the last glass...
Kepple at the Gates
But before I go, I should mention that Ben Kepple is worried that I think he's a barbarian. No, no, Ben! Not at all! On the absolute contrary, I know Ben's got his finger in the dike, as he holds off the forces of barbarism within our society. Would that there were more people out there like him!
That said, though, we should all take pity on Ben as he is stuck in a remote outpost of the empire, where he has no alternative but to drink himself blind with fortified wine! Folks, this cannot stand! The man who introduced me to Vegas and to Indian Food cannot go without good wine.
So, in light of Robbie LaBelle's kind generosity, let us each send a bottle of wine to Ben Kepple for Easter! No one should have to drink Thunderbird or Red Bull on the day of Our Lord's Resurrection, especially not a fine man like Kepple. Soooo...send Kepple a bottle of wine to this address:
Wine for Kepple
C/O Scott Rubush
9911 West Pico Blvd., Ste. 1290
Los Angeles, Calif. 90035
What's that sound? That's the sound of my NCAA Tournament bracket falling apart.
Yes, friends, my lot in basketball has gone from bad to worse this weekend, as I finished the first two rounds of the tournament dead last in my own, SR.com pool. My Final Four teams began to drop today, as Cincinnati bowed out of the tournament to...UCLA. That's what I get for betting against the local favorite. But actually, my downfall began early in the first round. Three, 12-seeded teams--Tulsa, Creighton, and Missouri--advanced to round two. The UNC-Wilmington Seahawks defeated the four-seeded USC Trojans. Oh, the horror... But even still, my demise began in earnest even before the tournament began--in fact, it began the very moment I submitted my idiotic picks. Hampton to defeat Connecticut?? Davidson to advance to round two? Western Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen? What the heck was I thinking?
This weekend almost makes me nostalgic for the year when Carolina lost in the tournament to lowly Weber State. At least we made the tournament that year. And I have no doubt that my picks were much better that year--after all, it's hard to do much worse than I did this weekend. Like Matt Doherty and the Tar Heels, all I can only say after these four rough days is, "Wait till next year."
Scott 12:42 AM [+] ::
Ken Layne has a nice post on last night's LA Blog-fest, held at the home of UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh, high up in the Hollywood Hills. It was a wonderful evening, as is to be expected when a handful of the country's best writers gather together. Eugene let a few lawyers into the loop too, as we need them to complete our plans for world conquest. They behaved themselves rather nicely. So, thanks Eugene! And thanks to all my fellow LA bloggers, for your wonderful company! You guys really are a great bunch.
Scott 10:24 PM [+] ::
Requiem for LA Sprawl
LA's de facto local paper, the New York Times, has issued an interesting report about the end of sprawl in the City of Angels. The article points points to a revival of vertical, urban-style growth within the city. And there are no snide references to "gentrification." It really seems on the money, based on my experience in LA. The city's future really does lie in its urban core, in spots like Downtown, and the Wilshire Corridor.
Here's the latest report on Christianity's Fifth Column, courtesy of National Review's Stanley Kurtz. The Jesuit-affiliated Univ. of San Francisco is taking steps to gut its Great Books program. What a shame. These are dark days for the Church of Rome, and the last thing it needs right now is to have its own adherents betraying its heritage from within.
Scott 9:32 PM [+] ::
Well, then ding, ding, ding, let's get ready to rumble! If there's any city in America that needs to have its image deflated, it's Washington, DC.
Look, I know Washington is an important place filled with legions of public servants working tirelessly on our behalf. The city even has some cool national monuments too. And yes, there are some great watering holes in city's northwest quadrant. But c'mon. Any city that bills itself as "Rome on the Potomac" is overrated. In fact, Washington is a terrible place to live. The weather sucks. The traffic is horrible. Every social gathering is populated with wonkish, Al Gore wannabes. And for heaven's sake, they elected a crack smoker as their mayor. So if it takes a tacky event like the Tyson-Lewis fight to make people realize how dismal a place Washington really is, I say go for it.
Like a lot of conservatives, I think the Univ. of North Colorado’s “Fightin’ Whities” intramural basketball team is hilarious. Here’s Lucianne Goldberg’s take on the matter:
The team wears white T-shirts with a picture of a man in a suit and tie and we assume they gorge themselves on egg-salad on white and iced tea at half time. The idea was meant as a rebuke from offended Indians but it backfired. Can the Crunchin' Caucasians and Walloping Wasps be next? We hope so. And cut those damn crusts off!
It’s too bad this batch of leftists is too busy saving the world to see the humor in their crusade.
--He hypocritically bashes Reagan and his devotees as "partisan" while trying to score partisan points himself.
--He invokes tabloid biographer Kitty Kelley as a legitimate source.
--He uses the heretofore-undiscovered construction, “People of Gender.” Huh? He means “women,” of course, and I think he's trying to be witty by deploying this term. But geez…
Again, I realize that his tone isn’t meant to be a completely serious. But the whole point of satire is to pick at the flaws of an argument or decision, and keep on pulling until the whole thing unravels into one big, hilarious mess. But Morris hasn't done that here. Instead of tugging at this argument, he creates a fictional argument (ie, that honoring a former president amounts to gender discrimination), and tugs at that one instead. You may recall this technique from his quasi-fictional “biography” of the former President. Morris creates this inane straw man case for honoring public citizens, then expects all to be dazzled as he rips it apart with a faulty argument based on a glaring non sequitur. Har, har, har, Edmund!
How lame. How stupid. Just like his Reagan biography.
Megan McArdle of Live from Ground Zero sent a torrent of readers to my site when she linked to the picture of the Towers of Light, found below. Thanks, Megan!
I hope the new readers among you will stick around. If you're looking to make a quick escape back to Megan's site, though, I've updated the Perma-Link list for her new URL, http://www.janegalt.net.
Before you go, though, you should read this article by Gustavo Bonevardi, the designer of the Towers of Light. Bonevardi discusses his experience in Manhattan on September 11, and explains the design and symbolism of his stunningly beautiful tribute to those who fell that terrible day. It's a wonderful article.
Scott 9:31 PM [+] ::
The NCAA Basketball Tournament begins this week. Here's your chance to test your brackets and your picking abilities against some of the fiercest competition in Blog-land--and and to cheer on your favorite teams at the same time. Bragging rights are at stake, so don't delay!
...then make your picks! The deadline for entry is Thursday, March 14 at 8:55am PST (GMT-800).
With our beloved North Carolina Tar Heels absent from the tournament this year for the first time in living memory, there will be no partisan loyalties to interfere with sound, hardwood logic. That's gonna make the competition that much tighter, and the smack talk that much more intense. So don't miss out! All ScottRubush.com readers are invited to join the fun. So go make your picks now!
Mark Steyn has written another classic op-ed, this time taking aim at Senate Democrats who complain that we have no "exit strategy" for the War on Terror. Go read the whole thing. Here's my favorite portion:
Here's something else that will shock you: Churchill didn't have an "exit strategy" for World War II. Exit strategies are for optional foreign adventures, when you go into the People's Republic of Basketcazia because you think General Ruthlez Bastardo would be a mild improvement on President Sy Kotik, but otherwise you've no vital interest at stake. You don't have exit strategies when your national territory's been attacked; you have a responsibility to see the war through to the end.
The White House also had issues with Simon. When Simon's dad was in the Nixon and Ford administrations, a young man named Gerry Parsky worked under him, later going into business with the elder Simon. After several years of successful ventures, Simon Sr. and Parsky had a bitter split, each publicly accusing the other of duplicity. That dispute is still being litigated (Simon Sr. died two years ago), and several sources say hard feelings remain between Parsky and the younger Simon. (Bill Simon Jr. denies that, saying that the lawsuit "isn't even relevant today," adding, "Gerry and I have a fine relationship.")
Parsky today is George W. Bush's top adviser in California. "Almost nothing happens in California with the White House or cabinet members unless Parsky is on board," says one top Republican in the state. Parsky was not "on board" for a Simon candidacy initially and, even after the primary victory, is publicly doubting Simon's chances. "If you are an extreme conservative, you cannot win in California," Parsky told the New York Times late last week.
And that left Riordan. There are conflicting accounts as to exactly how actively the White House sought to help Riordan. At least once, the White House appeared to give Riordan a heads-up on an upcoming policy initiative, providing the mayor an opportunity to look both prescient and connected. And several sources mentioned a proposed deal in which Simon would abandon his gubernatorial bid for a job as the chief deputy to Tom Ridge in the Office of Homeland Security. Simon says he heard such "rumors" but didn't put much stock in them.
You'll recall that last week I made a trip to Trader Joe's and picked five bottles of wine at $2.99/each. All this is in keeping not just with the rules of Wine of the Week (WOTW), but also the spirit of WOTW, in which we attempt to find the best stuff available for under $10. With these $2.99 selections, we’re taking the “vita dulce on the cheap” principle to an extreme, and wagering that good stuff can be had for chump change.
Last week, I tasted a Spanish white wine, Palacio de Gaviria. It was unremarkable.
Tonight I uncorked the second of these bottles: Espiral Dao (1999), from Portugal. Dao is a red wine, which suits my pallet better than the whites. As I type this, I’m on my second glass, and I’m rather enjoying it. It’s a little on the dry side, but that’s a good thing. In fact, Espiral is a strong wine with a robust personality. I didn’t eat dinner at home this evening, so I can’t say with confidence how it would pair with food—but I think this would hold its own against pasta or a red meat dish.
Espiral not the best wine I’ve ever tasted, but it was $2.99. I can cut it some slack. In fact, it’s a good, everyday wine that you ought to go pick up at Trader Joe’s tomorrow. Uncork it with dinner. It will take an ordinary meal to the next level. You really can’t go wrong with this one.
Like other Collegiate Network alums, I often huff in disgust that "the paper has never been as good since I graduated." More than two years after graduating, though, my boyz at Carolina Review really have made me proud, producing a new issue that surpasses anything I could have put together as an undergraduate. Brother Matthew has an article in this issue, plus there's a great expose on the university's left-wing faculty bias. The cover art is superb, and the Paradigms & Principles section is in tip-top shape. Go check it out.
Scott 2:41 AM [+] ::
"Site operators went ahead with plans to declare a SigAlert in the area of The Rant and warned visitors about a potential SigAlert at ScottRubush.com."
Many of you poor people back on the East Coast may have read that, scratched your heads, and asked, "What's a SigAlert?"
A SigAlert, for the uninitiated, is LA-ese for really, really heavy traffic. Specifically it means:
A Sigalert is any unplanned event that causes the closing of one lane of traffic for 30 minutes or more, as opposed to a planned event like road construction, which is planned separately.
...according to an article by Todd Purdhum of the New York Times, reprinted here. We Angelinos hear the term "SigAlert" several times each morning on our car radios as we're driving to work. EG: "A SigAlert on the southbound Harbor Freeway has traffic backed up from Florence Ave." Translation: If you're headin' down to the hood, don't use The 110.
So, Kepple has had so much traffic at his site--10,000 hits worth--that he had to declare a SigAlert. Get it?
Reports of a SigAlert over here at SR.com are unfounded, though. I still get about 20 fewer hits per day than Kepple, so the traffic is a lot less congested over here. But that's just one more reason to make SR.com part of your daily blogging commute.
How can you be so blasé? It is a catastrophe! Bush has completely trashed the USA's ability to continue the liberalization of international trade in return for a short term political smiley. This is playing HUGE in the media across the rest of the world and the US media and neo-con bloggers are just shrugging. Big mistake.
Why am I shrugging off such a horrible policy move? Well, that's not really the impression I meant to give. Protectionism is a horrible policy, with no discernable public benefits, at least that I know of. With this decision, Bush has stunted economic growth in the Rust Belt states by providing an incentive for an inefficient industry to stay in business. And he's placed his boot heel on the necks of poor people in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. The Bush steel tax will keep poor people poor while making products more expensive for everybody else. It benefits nobody but the Bush '04 campaign. It's an abomination.
That said, though, my libertarian distrust of government, of all things, has muted my outrage. See, I know most people believe that government exists to serve "the people" and "the common good" and whatnot, but I'm under no such pretensions. On the contrary, I see clearly that government, or at least the modern super-state, kills and steals, and doesn't do much else. That’s just its nature. The world's governments murdered 168 million people during the 20th century, while the average American--who enjoys one of the lowest tax rates in the Western world—currently must toil nearly five months of each year just to pay the tax collector. So it should be obvious to anyone that government does horrible things. That’s what governments do. So I can understand how painful it is to watch this brigandage take place, especially when it’s packaged as a noble part of a war to protect the very people who are being taxed and exploited. But that's just the way government works.
So that's why I'm not surprised to see the Great Leader enriching himself at the public's expense. I could get angry about it, but what good would that accomplish? Imagine if we were talking about a dog, instead of the government, for a moment. If the dog chews up the furniture and relieves himself on the floor, you can get upset about it--but that's just what dogs do. You can yell at the dog, and perhaps even smack the dog with a newspaper, but in the end the dog will go on being a dog. There's no point in trying to reform the dog. In fact, the dog's foibles can even be endearing at times.
So it is with Government, and with our President's decision to raise the tax on steel. Sure we can wring our hands over this mess Bush has created. But if we drive him out of office, some other highwayman will come along and loot the masses another way. Albert Jay Nock felt the same way, and described his attitude in a passage from Memoirs of a Superfluous Man that's worth quoting at length:
Every day I divert myself with watching, outside my window, a concourse of chickadees, woodpeckers, and tree-sparrows, nuthatches, and other small birds, feeding on grain, seeds, and suet which the household puts out for them. They had lost no time in discovering that they could satisfy their needs and desires with less exertion by exploiting the household than by scratching up a living for themselves; hence they are always promptly on hand. Presently two jays appear, imperialist freebooters whom I have named respectively Joseph Chamberlain and Cecil Rhodes. They consider the situation, then fly off and report to a lurking band of jay-profiteers who descend in a body, disperse the original exploiters, and "take over."
This scene would disappoint no one, distress no one, because that is the way birds are, and everybody knows it, and knows also that nothing can be done about it.[...] So one feels no distress or despondency at the sight of like behaviour on the part of psychical anthropoids...That is the way people are....the anthropoid jobholders who engineered it and the masses whom they coerced and exploited were doing the best that the limitations of their nature admitted of their doing, and one could expect no more than that. There was even a certain grave beauty, such as one observes in a battle of snakes or sharks, in the machinations which they contrived to fulfill the law of their being. One regarded these creatures with abhorrence, yes; sometimes with boredom and annoyance, yes; but with despondency and disappointment, no. (pp. 312-3)
And so it is with this latest mess from Washington. Which explains why I'm "blasé" about the whole situation. The beltway’s latest jobholder has “taken over” in Washington, and now must “fulfill the law of [his] being.” But that’s to be expected.
What are we to do? Nock offered an answer:
I have known many persons, some quite intimately, who thought it was their duty to take “the social point of view on mankind’s many doings and misdoings, and to support various proposals, mainly political, for the mass-improvement of society. One of them is a friend of long standing who has done distinguished service of this kind throughout a lifetime, and is directly responsible for the promulgation of more calamitous and coercive “social legislation” than one could shake a stick at. In a conversation with me not many months ago, this friend said to me mournfully, “My experience has cured me of one thing. I am cured of believing that society can ever be improved through political action. After this, I shall ‘cultivate my garden.’”
Il faut cultiver notre jardin. With these words Voltaire ends his treatise called Candide…. To my mind, those few concluding words sum up the whole social responsibility of man. The only thing that the psychically-human being can do to improve society is to present society with one improved unit. (p. 307)
And that’s what I will try to do, instead of protesting this decision. I'll let this go, and cultivate my garden.
Scott 1:35 AM [+] ::
Don't forget about us little people, O-Dub!
Scott 2:45 AM [+] ::
The LA New Times' Tony Ortega has written a nice profile of the LA Examiner, the web publication run by Matt Welch and Ken Layne. The Examiner is a ball-busting publication put together by two old-school newsies who are unencumbered by such pieties as "objectivity" and "journalistic ethics." It's great--and it's a welcome relief from the drivel that passes for writing at the LA Times. You oughta read it if you want the low-down on what's happening in the City of Angels.
The sharp-as-a-tack Virginia Postrel has written a good take-down of President Bush's decision to go trolling for votes in Pennsylvania and West Virginia by raising taxes on steel. It's a shameless move that's going to hurt a lot of people, while only benefiting a narrow few.
Let's not go too hard on Bush, though. This sort of rent-seeking, special interest politicking is the sine quo non of our system today. I agree with Postrel that Bush, in his heart of hearts, is a free-trader who understands the benefits of open markets. It's just a damn shame what's economically rational for the country rarely is politicallly rational for its leaders.
Bill Simon has captured the Republican nomination in the California Gubernatorial race, and political circles are abuzz with talk of whether or not Simon can defeat incumbent Governor Gray Davis. There's been lots of discussion about Simon’s positions on abortion and taxes, and whether he is too conservative, and too wonkish to win the election. But underneath that veneer, a juicy conflict between Simon and an influential California GOP operative is coming to a head.
That's why I suggest that bloggers and reporters keep a close eye on businessman Gerald L. Parsky, who was the head of the Bush 2000 Campaign efforts in California. From what I'm told, Parsky is the gatekeeper between California Republicans and the White House. And Parsky hates Bill Simon.
Why does Parsky hate Bill Simon?
Gerry Parsky and Bill Simon, Sr., the candidate's father, were business partners in the financial services sector during the 1980s. The two collaborated in building an empire of Savings and Loan institutions throughout Southern California and Hawaii. That empire collapsed during the S&L scandal of the early '90s, and the two families apparently have been at odds since then. Simon, Sr. died in 2000, but apparently Parsky is taking out his grudge on his son, the GOP nominee for Governor.
Parsky's clout with the White House gives him a vested interest in a Simon defeat. The rumor mill has it that Parsky was behind the White House's decision to back Richard Riordan (albeit tepidly, and to a much lesser extent than Riordan claimed). I've also been told (but can't confirm) that Bush tried to keep now-candidate Simon on the sidelines by offering him a position in the Office of Homeland Security following September 11. Just a rumor...
Anyway, I challenge the reporters out there to profile this guy, his business dealings, and his clout within GOP circles in Washington and California. I'd like someone to confirm the Bush Administration's efforts to quietly derail the Simon campaign--and to detail Parsky's influence over the President. It seems like there's a juicy soap opera to be told here for any journalist diligent enough to uncover it.
*With apologies to Mickey Kaus, who invented the "Assignment Desk" feature.
I've added a new feature to the site which allows you to comment on my posts. Go easy on me, everbody....
Scott 2:22 AM [+] ::
Janet Reno's Red Truck
Janet Reno's "Red Truck Tour" isn’t going too well, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Well go figure. I can't imagine anything more disingenuous than the sight of Reno driving a red truck. Real Americans are supposed to drive red trucks, not Janet Reno. Not only do I question her bona fides as a working class, "real American," but I also wonder if the former Attorney General is even a human being at all. She seems more like a cyborg or a robot than a living person, and this prop she’s driving around the Sunshine State right now has always struck me as a creepy disguise for that. I don’t blame the People of Florida for keeping their distance.
Speaking of Trucks...
Tomorrow's Wall Street Journal (which we folks on the West Coast get to read three hours early) offers a look at what people like Janet Reno really think of trucks: they want to ban them from the roads in the name of "safety" and "fuel efficiency." Apparently they think we should all drive Honda Civics, lest we "pollute the air" or "deepen our dependence on Saudi oil." To which I say, poppycock. If I want to drive a hulking vehicle that gets just 15 mpg, that's the decision I make at the pump. And if my big red Chevy S-10 collides with your puny little Ford Aspire, you better get your a$$ to a hospital. I'll stand on the curb unharmed and wish you a speedy recovery as the medivac hauls you to the emergency room--because, as this article points out, big vehicles like mine are safer than small, "fuel efficient" death traps.
And of course you can be sure the pols’ big, gas-guzzling limos will be exempt from these regulations....
“Both sides are dirty and I can't see where it will stop. My gut reaction is to just have America disengage from the whole thing but if that happens the Arab states will just overrun Israel. There's no upside and no good guy.
Oliver's sentiment is typical of what I used to think about this conflict. But then I realized that’s bull. There is a good guy--it's Israel. There's a bad guy too--it's the PLO. Yes, Arafat is a dirty son of a bitch, and the whole hue and cry for a Palestinian state is simply a ruse that disguises a larger, anti-Semitic agenda that includes the destruction of Israel.
Oliver,—and anyone else who still has doubts about Arafat’s true intentions—I implore you to read Steven Plaut’s Jan. 17 piece on FrontPage titled “Facing Unpleasant Facts in the Middle East,” which includes common sense points like these:
--The instability of the Middle East is not caused by Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands but by PLO occupation of Israeli lands.
--There was never in history an Arab Palestinian state.
--The Palestinians have no legitimate claim to the right to set up their own state. It is doubtful whether they ever did have such a right, but even if they did - they forfeited it thanks to decades of terrorism, savagery, mass murders and barbarism.
--Palestinians are Arabs. The Arabs already rule 22 states. There is no reason why they should be entitled to a 23rd, and creation of such a 23rd Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza will escalate Middle East violence and world terrorism.
--The Palestinians are not and never were a "nation". They are not even a tribe. They are a branch of Arabs with only minor, secondary cultural differences that distinguish them from Syrians, Lebanese or Jordanians.
--The Middle East conflict cannot be resolved through endless exhibitions of niceness and restraint by Israel. Israeli niceness, restraint, and goodwill gestures are interpreted by the Arab world as weakness and as signs that the Jews, like Paul McCartney's Band, are on the run.
--The Palestinians are not "mistreated" by Israel, but are poorly treated by the PLO.
--The only Arabs in the Middle East with any semblance of civil rights are those who live under Israeli rule.
Wall Street has had one helluva run the past two days, closing up 217 points today, and up 262 on Friday. A front-page article in the Wall Street Journal this morning led with the statement that "the US economy appears to be steaming out of recession," and talk radio was abuzz tonight during my drive home with a discussion about this rally "having legs." I'm bullish on stocks anyway--and in fact, I doubled down on the market after Sept. 11--so I can't help but add my voice those who see this latest charge turning into a veritable Pamplona.
It's hard to imagine a worse scenario for the market than what we've seen during the past six months--a catastrophic terrorist attack on the nation's financial nerve center, followed by a major scandal at a big-five accounting firm. The attacks and the scandals at Enron and Arthur Andersen should have completely wrecked our economy. Instead, the nation's economic growth remained in positive territory during the fourth quarter of 2001, and it appears to be on the way up. That's simply incredible.
Sure, there will be some profit-taking and some volatility over the short term. But over the long haul, things look good. If anyone still has doubts about the resiliency of America's economy, the recovery we're beginning to see now should eliminate those for good.
**Disclaimer: Scott Rubush is not a licensed financial advisor. In fact, any investment decisions you make based on what he says will likely end up costing you a truckload of money. Consult a pro, or at least the Money and Investing Section of the Journal, before putting any cash on the line.
The Simon-for-Governor bandwagon has picked up a ton of momentem, and appears as though it could pull off an upset in tomorrow's California gubernatorial primary election. I know I've been predicting a win for former LA Mayor Richard Riordan, but I'm really sweating that call right now. On the eve of the election, I'd put Simon's odds of winning the nomination at even-money.
Of course I'm not going to bother voting tomorrow because I'm not registered, and quite frankly, voting is a foolish waste of time. But I'll have fun watching the returns tomorrow night. As one of my old Carolina roommates used to say, "The only thing that's certain in politics is that the election will take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November." And even that assumption has been thrown out the window in this race. So folks, get ready for a wild ride tomorrow.
The marathon's path went right by La Casa Rubush, following Sixth Street from the Miracle Mile district all the way to Western Ave., where it turned south, and went past the Wiltern Theater. I walked over there today, and couldn't believe the sheer number of people I saw running. Healthy, fit people running 26+ miles, as far as the eye could see.
And here I am sitting on my fat duff on Sunday night. It's time for me to get in shape...
Scott 10:28 PM [+] ::
Carolina v. Dook
Surprise, surprise, the Heels lost to Dook again today. They didn't even keep it close. They lost 93-68. Most years I'd spend March cheering on my alma mater. Not this year, though. I hope they lose in the first round of the ACC tournament next weekend, so that this season comes to a mercifully quick end. Put this Carolina squad out of its misery.
"The error lies in exalting freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values.... In this way the inescapable claims of truth disappear."
...though there are plenty of other holes in this philosophy as well. Allow me to bring one more of those to your attention: the libertarian definition of "freedom" is quite hollow. It exalts the autonomy of the individual as the supreme good. But alas, this definition simply puts a smiling face on the Nietzschean "will to power." At least that's the conclusion of George Weigal's essay in the new issue of First Things, titled "A Better Concept of Freedom." That essay won't be online for a few more weeks, but you can go pick up a hard copy of it in bookstores now. Weigal's essay essentially is a re-telling of Richard M. Weaver's classic, Ideas Have Consequences. Like Weaver, Weigal takes aim at "Ockham's Razor," and the radical individualism which that concept pioneered. Weigal argues that we must replace this definition of "freedom" (ie, the freedom to exercise our wills as we see fit, provided we don't interfere with anyone else) with a Thomistic definition of freedom, ie, "freedom for excellence"-- the fulfillment that comes from a life lived justly and virtuously. Weigal borrows an analogy from Aquinas scholar Servais Pinckaers to help define this vision of freedom:
"It's a bit, Pinckaers says, like learning to play a musical instrument. Anyone can bang away on a piano; but that is to make noise, not music, and it's a barbaric, not humanistic expression of freedom. At first, learning to play the piano is a matter of some drudgery as we master exercises that seem like a constraint, a burden. But as our mastery grows, we discover a new, richer dimension of freedom: we can play the music we like, we can even create new music on our own. Freedom, in other words, is a matter of gradually acquiring the capacity to choose the good and to do what we choose with perfection."
I agree with Weigal’s analysis and with Pinckaer's analogy, and I wish the Vatican had applied it here. Certainly our Pope's attack on libertarianism was not very extensive (it was an aside made during a discourse about the Internet), but it's dangerous for Christians to begin saying that we support limits on "freedom." Christianity, on the contrary, is the true voice of freedom. (I would argue that the world's other major monotheistic religions also give voice to this definition of freedom as well.) The modern understanding of freedom, which the libertarians take the n-th degree, is simply a perversion of it.
Samizdata's page over the past few months has helped me confirm this analysis. Carr for instance, speaks suspiciously of the Catholic Church, yet if memory serves, his fellow travelers at Samizdata recently have offered Paeans to porn and drug legalization in their recent posts. In other words, the libertarian vision of “freedom” leaves man free to pursue his base, barbaric instincts. But the Christian/Thomistic understanding of freedom, in its prohibitions on these things, actually frees us from the chains of our own, animal appetites. It's a vastly more mature understanding of "freedom," one which allows us to live life in community with others. It's surprising that the Holy Father did not invoke it here.
Just uncorked Palacio de Gaviria. It's about what you'd expect for $2.99. A very shy, dainty white wine. French bread and gouda cheese draw out its flavor, but on its own it cowers away in the corner. Maybe it's just my aversion to white wines in general, but this one in particular tastes rather watery and lifeless to me.
Scott 8:28 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, March 02, 2002 ::
Democratic Leadership: Soft on Terror
I normally try to refrain from discussing the day job here at SR.com, but Terry Cooper's piece on today's FrontPage was so good that I'd be remiss if I failed to mention it here. Cooper has done some meticulous research on the voting records of Congressional Democrats, and his findings are devastating. He finds that the during the 1990s the Democrats played Russian Roulette with our nation's security, voting year after year to cut back America's intelligence resources, sight unseen. Here's a snippet:
By party, 83.6 percent of those voting to reduce funding for intelligence were Democrats; just 15.6 percent were Republicans. (The balance of the votes to cut intelligence spending were cast by Socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who authored seven of the ten cutting amendments.)
Five of the amendments attracted a majority of voting Democrats. On one, 64.2 percent of voting Democrats voted to cut; on a second, 78.6 percent; on a third, 80.2 percent. The highest percentage of voting Republicans any of the amendments received was 16.1 percent.
The Democrats who voted to cut intelligence funding weren't just back-benchers, either. The House Democratic leadership, and the senior Democrats on the committees responsible for our national security, supported the cut-funding amendments in force. [...]
Two conclusions are clear. First, on funding the nation's intelligence operations, there's a clear difference between House Republicans and House Democrats. Second, large numbers of House Democrats, including their elected leaders, appointed leaders and committee and subcommittee chieftains, regularly tried to cut funding for intelligence. For them, September 11 should have been a personal embarrassment that led to public apologies.
The other two parts, which will appear on FrontPage Monday, spell this out in exhaustive detail. It's thorough, and it's an incredibly damning piece of research that details the Democrats' reckless, soft-on-terror agenda during the months and years leading up to the attacks of September 11.
I rather enjoyed Tunku Varadarajan’s article in today’s Wall Street Journal about those London I-Bankers who were sacked from their jobs because they dropped $62,000 at lunch one day. Mr. Varadarajan’s complaint? That the money they spent on lunch could have gone to the poor and the meek? No, no…he’s miffed that he didn’t have a seat at the table. Varadarajan, you see, enjoys the finer things in life. My hats off to him, and the I-Bankers who define the world’s consumption preferences upward.
Wine of the Week
Speaking of conspicuous consumption, let us now turn to the Wine of the Week.
Of course, I don’t have $62k to drop on bottles of wine from the far ends of the Earth. But I do have $2.99. That’s right, Sunday’s Wine of the Week will feature a bottle that I found for just $2.99—as will the wine of the week for four more Sundays after that.
See, I made a trip Trader Joe’s this week to select a vintage for Sunday night. When I got there, though, I couldn’t believe my eyes: there were wines from every corner of the globe for under three dollars each. So my innocent trip to Ben Kepple’s favorite grocery store turned into a huge wine-buying bonanza. I picked up five, count' em, five bottles at $2.99/each, plus a block of Spanish sheep’s milk cheese—and got change back from a $20. That’s la vita dulce, on the cheap.
I have no idea how good these wines will be. But what the hell. If they’re lousy, I lose less than the price of a beer at an average bar in LA. If they’re good, I’ve hit the jackpot.
Five Countries, Five Wines
Our Wine Journey will take us to five countries (Spain, Portugal, Australia, Chile, and Argentina) and three continents over the next few weeks. We’ll start this Sunday in Spain, where we’ll try the Madrid white wine by Palacio de Gaviria (2000). Go pick up a bottle, and raise your glass with me on Sunday night.