Friday, November 24, 2006

The Living Dead

For an excellent synopsis about how aspirers to "crunch" can kill the thing they most want to achieve ... read this article in Vanity Fair by a.a. gill, in which he discusses the monstrous new condos being erected around residential areas of New York. These new glass towers are an outrageous visual insult to the aesthetics of the nineteenth century neighborhoods in which they obnoxiously stake their claim. All the while, they market their Dreherian material authenticity in the form of "bog-stained Irish elm, gnarled Honduran corset pine, [and] smoked Austrian oak" wood finishes, while also touting "the provenance of the washing machines and the door fixtures". Sound familiar to readers of crunchy cons?

These multi-million dollar "lifestyle condos" are being marketed to wall streeters who desire the social cred of having made it in the big bad city. Gill makes all-important point that merely by building and marketing these condos, that "big bad city" is sterilized and commodified to the point of vaporization. Gill says it best here: "Fund managers kill the thing they crave." Indeed. The same could be said for the author of "crunchy cons", whose voracious craving for and analysis of "authenticity", encapsulized in the form of a mass market book, threatens all that is in fact "authentic". We humbly submit that pointing out this fatal paradox is not a bad raison d'etre for any blog, even this one.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Great Insight from Rod...

...and I'm totally serious, people. Here's something he said in a recent post with which I heartily agree. Excerpt:

Of course the concept of "hate" is much abused in our political discourse; when someone accuses a critic of "hate," more often than not it's a lame attempt to shut down an argument the respondent would prefer not to be having.

I think there is a lot of wisdom in that. Let's all take it to heart.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A public note to Mark Shea.


You don't have the moral high ground in criticizing this blog, as you not only continue to insult us, you are now consistently deleting from the comments at your blog even our most civil attempts to defend ourselves.

I'm mentioning this here because you seem unwilling even to note that you're doing this, to say nothing of an explanation why.

You do however bring up an argument that deserves a response:
The thing is, in cyberspace, the punches don't really land. So Dreher just goes on doing his thing. The only thing they succeed in doing, by their sheer nastiness, is making sure that he will never hear whatever good ideas they might have.

Compare them to, say, Disputations. Now *that's* a substantive critique. And yet nowhere does Kreitzberg feel the need to write stupid doggerel, nor to pore over Dreher's writings looking for damning details that prove him a liar, nor to make fun of his trauma on 9/11. Just a nice, clear critique of some of the problems with Dreher's presentation of CC ideas.

As an aside, I would contend that much of the substance of John da Fiesole's critique can also be found here, if a little less obvious amidst the parodies and digressions. I would argue that one of his central points -- the incoherence of Rod's belief systems -- is one of our central themes. We also have other substantive criticisms about Rod's writing, particularly around the midterm elections; I posted a comment detailing those critiques at your blog, and you deleted it, but the comment was (thankfully) copied here.

Anyway, you seem to think that our rather frequent barbs at Mr. Dreher is making a substantive response less likley: "The only thing they succeed in doing, by their sheer nastiness, is making sure that he will never hear whatever good ideas they might have."

Thing is, I don't think I've ever seen Rod offer a substantive response to John da Fiesole and his "nice, clear critique." Or to Jonah Goldberg, Kevin Holtsberry, Gilbert Meilaender, anyone else who's raised substantive objections at Rod's blog, or even to you.

The most I've seen him do is point to other people's responses to the criticisms, as he did here, in citing Daniel Larison's response to Meilaender. If you know of a more substantive response than this, I welcome you to point it out.

But if no such response exists, what then? Is satire and ridicule really too terrible a response to a political writer and newspaper editor who apparently has a pretty nasty habit of deliberately avoiding the tough but necessary job of responding personally to substantive criticism even from his peers?

If you think so, I'd love to hear you say so.


A hit, a very palpable hit.

Rod Dreher's most recent blog entry is directed primarily at the Contra Crunchies, and he admits that it's all a clever ruse.

"Oh, I'm just trying to bait them, for fun, just to see if they can stand not to comment. You watch: they won't be able to resist -- and it'll be even less funny than my little tossed-off thing."

Well, he's right that we can't resist a response, and he's right that any response we make would pale to his joke. I'm writing to admit defeat in our long-standing battle of wits.

His writing is, in a word, brilliant.

His approach is an ironic, post-modern reversal of expectations, and I'm frankly surprised I have the gray matter to comprehend it, but I do just barely see it.

He demonstrates his civility by pretending to call us names, he demonstrates his wit and originality by using old pejoratives and even other people's insults, and he shows that he really couldn't be bothered about us by feigning that he thinks of us even when contemplating the finer things of life.

But all that's nothing compared to the piece de resistance, the coup de grace, and the eau de toilette: Beaujolais nouveau.

No true crunchy conservative would be caught dead drinking that stuff. Those faithful friends of all things local wouldn't drink any French wine on principle, but certainly not this particular variation. They're skeptics of big government, so they wouldn't wait like kids on Christmas Eve for French officials to tell them it's okay to purchase their drink of choice. They abhor the fast-paced life of modernity, so they wouldn't want to encourage the practice of having this wine shipped across the globe as quickly as possible.

And they absolutely hate commercialism, but apparently, "[t]he phrase, 'Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!' is proclaimed and celebrated on banners, advertisements, etc. in order to lure in the fan." The damn thing has a slogan, so no true traditionalist, agrarian crunchy conservative would find himself caught up in the rank marketing.

But by pretending he's such an obvious hypocrite, pretending to proclaim the simple life of the common farmer on one hand while indulging the consumerism of an elite cosmopolitan on the other, he proves that he's the genuine article -- and he gives us his critics no possible avenue for a retort.

Reading that post would initially give a person the idea that Rod's true patron saint of crunchy conservatism isn't Wendell Berry or Rusell Kirk: it's Frasier Crane.

But because we know better, because we know that Rod would never really be such an epicure, we his critics must stand in awe of his rhetorical wit and his intimidating intellect.

We yield, Rod. ¡No más! ¡No más!

Redbone Video

This blog has been hijacked before and besides, there's talk in a recent combox about turning the whole thing into a music fanblog. So continuing our tour of Louisiana, we move from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

This is what my friends and I called "overbite music" back in our snobby REM days. Youtube commenter "odf14" gives a succinct bio of Redbone (here's the wikipedia entry):

"Here's the real story on REDBONE: Redbone was a funky band whose music was a mixture of R&B, Cajun, Latin, and tribal elements. They were founded in the late 60s by brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas, born Pat and Lolly Vasquez. Lolly is actually is the diminutive form of the nickname for the name Eduardo, which is Lalo. The name Redbone came from a derogatory Indian slang term meaning half-breed."

So no one can say they never learned anything from this blog.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

He's a Loser

Mark Shea, esteemed catholic apologist (no joke), has said this site "reeks of sulfur", is suffused with nothing less than "hatred", and that I am the Witch Queen of Angmar. Well, I can't figure out why someone who has so much time and treasure invested in his spiritual health would spend time on a site written by and for the damned. Could it be that on some sick, sad, freakish level, he enjoys it? This early Beatles song springs to mind:

I'M A LOSER by Mark P. Shea

I'm a loser
I'm a loser
And that's just what I appear to be

Of all the blogs I have writ or have read
i wish the "" blog was dead
They are in league with the devil and hell
their fake song lyrics -- sophomoric doggerel!

I'm a loser
'cause it's stuff i can't seem not to read
I'm a loser
'cause I link there when they mention me

That kathleen reilly is the witch queen for sure
her thoughts are evil, her motives impure
at least from my blog i could get her banned
yet I still read her, the muse of the damned

I'm a loser
cause i know the evil contras' names
I'm a loser
cause of them i might go down in flames

If they were really as bad as I say
i wouldn't read all their comments everyday.
I went and said that I read them, oh no!
maybe it *is* me who just can't let go

I'm a loser
I've lost blogging time that's dear to me
I'm a loser
and that's just what I appear to be

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Allow me to quote Rod -- positively, for a change -- on the news that the GOP has lost the House of Representatives and perhaps even the Senate:
Nemesis always follows hubris.

Well said, Rod, and it is perhaps hubris of an especially irresponsible sort that seeks to hand the reins of power to a party wholly unserious about foreign policy during wartime just to punish the ones who are serious about facing our enemies, even if that party's weighed down by incompetence and corruption.

It's counter-productive and frankly moronic to give power to the party of John Kerry, Bill Clinton, and your precious Jimmy Carter, but with too small a tent for its 2000 vice-presidential nominee. It's counter-productive if, that is, you actually take seriously the threat of jihad and actually don't want another thirty years of appeasement and half-measures against an enemy with the will and increasingly the means to kill us and our allies by great numbers. As Cubeland Mystic pointed out, "this election now just about guarantees that all those little kindergarten males you see today will now certainly be fighting in wars twenty years from now." In matters of war and peace, modern Democrats are utterly incapable of wanting or even achieving a decisive victory.

But you should go ahead, tell us how "buoyant" you are after this defeat for those who are serious about foreign policy, and then continue to preach to us about hubris.

By acknowledging that nemesis always follows hubris, you've set the stage for another principle of Greek drama: irony.

Update, November 14th. Thomas Sowell has a great article out today, and it addresses precisely the sort of attitude Rod Dreher displayed as the election approached. It ought to go without saying that Rod wasn't the only self-professed conservative throwing such a temper tantrum; would that he were.
If the Republican leaders have learned nothing from their recent defeat, perhaps some Republican supporters will. Some of the most baffling e-mails received from conservative Republicans before the election were those which said that they were so disillusioned and/or disgusted with the Bush administration that they were going to vote for Democrats in order to send a message.

This is the kind of emotional self-indulgence common among liberals but apparently some conservatives have now also come to see elections as occasions to vent their feelings rather than to choose among existing options for the future of the country.

Sending a message may have its benefits but — as with all benefits — the question must be asked: "At what cost?"

On the Left, it is acceptable to say things like "open space" or "alternative fuels" without any thought of the cost. What is new is finding the same spirit now flourishing among some conservatives as well.

As events unfold over time, perhaps those conservatives will reconsider whether it was worth it to "send a message" to President Bush at the cost of making Senator Pat Leahy chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Leahy’s control of that committee virtually guarantees that the only kind of federal judges who can get confirmed are the kind who are likely to spend decades on the bench creating new "rights" for criminals, illegal aliens, and terrorists.

Was that price even considered by conservatives who indulged their anger instead of weighing alternatives?

Counting the cost remains a sound principle that is too often ignored.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Elton John's song Daniel is a lovely, pensive, sentimental tune about two simpatico friends. How fitting, then, that Benedict Rod should pen his own lyrics to the same tune, in a fitting tribute to crunchy arch-defender Daniel Larison:

DANIEL as sung by by Benedict Rod





Sunday, November 05, 2006

Conspiracy Theories.

On the heels of Saddam's receiving the death sentence, Rod underscored the brutality of Saddam's regime, writing, "one of the trial witnesses talked of being dragged into a torture center with his family, and seeing a meat grinder with blood and human hair under it."

It's funny that the term "meat grinder" would come up, because the last time he used the term, it was as metaphor for the situation in Iraq: "Voting against the Republicans makes it more likely that he and men like him won't be sent into the meat grinder to preserve this president's self-image."

I doubt we're wrong, but Bush and his supporters -- myself included -- may be wrong in believing that Iraq can become a relatively stable, relatively free country; we may be wrong in believing that the cause is vital to our national interests and we may even be wrong in believing that withdrawing in defeat would have dire consequences for our credibility around the world. We could be sincerely wrong, but Rod no longer gives the administration the benefit of even that little doubt: he thinks we're in Iraq "to preserve this president's self-image."

Disgusting and shameful as that comment was, it has proven to be a warm-up for this bit of conspiracy mongering:
"Justice was done in [Saddam's] trial, and even though you cannot convince me that the verdict was not planned to help Republicans with the election, I still thank God for it." [emphasis mine]

Like the looniest Leftist, Rod Dreher is immediately questioning the timing of this verdict.

It's likely that this parody site has just outlived its usefulness; it's hard to satirize someone who's jumped over this particular cliff.

Vanity's Fair?

Personally, I'm glad that, in linking to a an attempt at satire by Clark Stooksbury, Rod again acknowledges the existence of this blog and his most consistent critics -- though I'm personally still waiting for him to acknowledge the bulk of the substance of our criticisms.

And in defending his position that staying in Iraq is worse than pulling out, I'm glad to see him acknowledge, "Of course there is no shortage on the left, and on the extreme right, of people who delight in America's and George W. Bush's failure in Iraq" -- though he misses the point that, in desiring a GOP defeat Tuesday, he supports giving PRECISELY those sorts of leftist lunatics majority power in Congress.

But in light of an NRO symposium of some of the "neocons" cited in the press release, I wonder if Rod was a bit too quick in leaping on Vanity Fair's transparent attempt to influence the midterm elections.

David Frum, who's mentioned in Rod's excerpt, says that Vanity Fair "added words outside the quote marks to change the plain meaning of [his] quotations."

Michael Ledeen says that the author "confirmed that words attributed to [him] in the promo had been taken out of context."

Eliot Cohen found the timing of the press release to be "tendentious, to say the least." Richard Perle says that he was lied to about his comments not being released until after the election, and Michael Rubin calls the release "a pre-election hit job."

What they say about Iraq is as important as what they said about the press release.

Frum: "My most fundamental views on the war in Iraq remain as they were in 2003: The war was right, victory is essential, and defeat would be calamitous."

Perle: "I believe it would be a catastrophic mistake to leave Iraq, as some are demanding, before the Iraqis are able to defend their elected government. As I told Mr. Rose, the terrorist threat to our country, which is real, would be made much worse if we were to make an ignominious withdrawal from Iraq."

Rubin: "If we abandon Iraq, we will not only prove correct all of Osama Bin Laden’s rhetoric about the US being a paper tiger, but we will also demonstrate -- as James Baker and George H. W. Bush did in 1991 --— that listening to the White House and alliance with the United States is a fool’s decision. We can expect no allies anywhere, be they in Asia, Africa, or Latin America, if we continue to sacrifice principles to short-term realist calculations. It’s not enough to have an attention span of two years, when the rest of the world thinks in decades if not centuries."

If he has any integrity at all, and if he wants to retain any credibility at all, Rod Dreher will publicize this article with at least as much visibility as he gave the Vanity Fair press release.

I think Dreher has a nasty habit of pointing out articles that vindicate his foolish position on Iraq while ignoring those that don't. The NY Times accuses the Administration of corruption, and Rod's there. The same paper reveals that Iraq was perhaps a year away from building a nuclear bomb, and Jim Geraghty, Ed Morrisey, and Dean Barnett at Hugh Hewitt's blog all notice, but guess who didn't?

The writers cited in the Vanity Fair press release believe that they were misrepresented and lied to. Rod gave the press release coverage; will he give equal time to those who were cited in it?

Friday, November 03, 2006

On Moral Compromises.

One can tell a great deal about a person by finding out what he will not compromise: what lines in the sand he will not cross.

For all their faults, I personally will be voting for the Republicans in my district next week, as I believe national security remains the most important issue of the day and I continue to mistrust the Democratic leadership on that issue in particular. I believe that a Democratic majority in either house would result in a flood of hearings investigating Bush's foreign policies, a defunding of our efforts to forge a stable government in Iraq, or both. This would make it harder for Bush to confront a nuclear North Korea and a nearly nuclear Iran, it would make it harder for Bush or his successors to use military force against a rogue state, and it would send a signal of weakness unfathomably worse than our retreat from Somalia.

So far as I can tell, Rod Dreher doesn't give a damn about any of this. He is willing for us to lose face in front of our jihadist enemies just so Bush and Rumsfeld can be held accountable for what he believes is gross incompetence in Iraq. I don't believe they are guilty of such a thing, but even so: it's one thing to hold Lincoln to account for early defeats in the Civil War, it's another thing entirely to give the Copperheads the government in the process.

(Would that the modern Democrats were hawks...)

Because there's no clear indication that he's thought through the consequences of his petulant temper tantrum, I suspect that -- despite his otherwise clear appraisal of the threat posed by the jihadists -- Rod's willing to sacrifice national security to have his way in seeing the Bush Administration punished for Iraq.

It's now also clear that Rod's willing to sacrifice his principles on abortion to see to it that Republicans suffer for their supposed corruption and incompetence. There's a lot that's reprehensible about that post: there's the convenient redefinition of what it means for Rod to be "pro-life," and there's the suggestion that the American government isn't worth defending with Bush in the Oval Office:

"And I look at my own two sons, and wonder how I would feel if they were in Iraq now, putting their life on the line to protect two unworthy governments: Maliki's and Bush's. And that shapes my thinking heavily this year." [emphasis mine]

But beyond that is the emphasis on punishing the GOP:

"I think we are in a terrible, terrible situation in Iraq, and that the Republicans have a lot to answer for."

I find it hard to believe that a Dem-controlled Congress will make the admittedly rough situation in Iraq -- or, more importantly, national security overall -- any better, and I haven't seen any substance from Rod defending such a notion. Ultimately, I think the big issue for Rod is that Republicans must answer for their sins.

National security? It's not given much thought at all. Abortion? Important, he says, but not important enough.

I wonder what Rod won't sacrifice to satisfy his childish craving for punishing the GOP.

Update: In a later post, Rod quotes Paul Krugman -- odd how much our crunchy conservative likes and respects the NY Times' most liberal writer -- who asserts, "the United States has accepted defeat on [Iraqi] reconstruction."

God help us if that's true. But the interesting thing as it relates to Dreher is that it shows that he doesn't naively believe we can win in Iraq while the "crooks" in the White House are "roasted on live television."

He thinks Iraq is already a lost cause, and he furthermore thinks hearings where Rummy is grilled by indignant leftists is far more important than America's making clear its will to fight and to win.