Bragging goes hand in hand with failure. I’ve met a lot of stars in my life—sport and literary ones, and not a small amount of film stars, too—and I’ve yet to come across a successful one who boasted. Sure, there was Mohammed Ali, but his was a jig, a publicity stunt to make up for the years of white man forced -down-your-throat humility. Writers, athletes and actors, in fact all artists, have one thing in common: Insecurity with a capital I. Athletes have short careers, writers and actors longer ones. One loses the facility for words as one gets older, but makes up for it through experience. I know nothing about acting, but I do know sport. An old boxer sees a punch coming before the one throwing it has thought of it. But when it comes, it lands on the old boy despite the fact he was expecting it. That’s the time to hang it up, as they say.

Once upon a time, a tennis player reached his peak at 32. Match winning tennis required experience. One could beat a stronger opponent through guile, touch and superior strategy.  No longer. Technology has done away with the thinking man’s game. Now all one needs is power to hit the cover off the ball. The harder the hitter,  the better the player. That’s why I only watch women’s tennis, and will soon stop doing even that as the women’s game has gone the way of the men’s. Tennis is now a very young person’s game, as is boxing.

Remember Archie Moore? He boxed well into his late forties and put Rocky Marciano down early in the fight during a world’s heavyweight championship. Archie was 47, Rocky 22. Archie was a light heavyweight, Rocky was fifteen pounds heavier. Moore slipped punches, bobbed and weaved, cut the ring in half, faked men out of their jockstraps with his shoulder movement. 

Norman Mailer insists that Moore was in his fifties when he fought that gallant losing fight against the great Marciano, but I will play it safe and say not even Archie knew his true age. My mentor Yaroslav Drobny won Wimbledon in 1954 aged 34, something no player could do today. Drobny had great touch, could drop shot from the baseline—a real no-no—and although known for his weak sliced backhand, could disguise a lob or a passing shot like no other.
Footballers of course are through before they reach the age of Beckham, but I’m getting away from my subject of the week.

Namely me. Oldies have a powerful lobby in America, even in sport. Take judo, for example. Last week I went down to Miami for the U.S. national judo championships, a competition which decides who will represent Uncle Sam in next year’s Olympics. Along with the seniors, as the main competitors are known, there is also a master’s tournament. Age groups begin from 30 to 35, and so on. I was entered in the 70 to 75 group. I am a seven dan in Karate and have no ranking in judo, but I was a Greco- Roman wrestler since the age of 12. My coach, Teimac Ono Johnston, half Japanese, half Brit, saw something during training and persuaded me to enter. He cooked the books—one has to be an experienced black belt to be accepted— and there I was in Miami. Judo, wrestling, boxing, karate, all have one thing in common. One is alone on a mat or ring with only the ref as a safety belt. The last time I had competed was 1983, in Cairo, for the world’s karate championship. I was 47 but gave a good account of myself,although I did lose the deciding match against Britain in the fifth and deciding rubber. 

Some 24 years later I was back on a mat fighting for an American title, as well as an international one. I had spent my early life starving myself to make weight, and sweating out boxes worth of salt, thinking of toeholds, takedowns, arm bars and such instead of hitting the books.  Here comes the bragging part. After three matches, two extremely hard ones, I stood on the podium and had a gold medal hung around my rather sore neck. Alas, although I have German blood in me, the Greek one got the better of me. I blubbed a bit, mainly because a lot of people cheered loudly for an old man trying to relive his youth.

Mind you, it was only an age group victory. In theory, my gold medal means I am the toughest 70 to 75 year old judoka , certainly in America and perhaps even the world. It’s rubbish, of course, because the great ones my age no longer bother. But no one can take it away from me, and on my flight back I wore the gold under my jumper which I removed when the mother of my children opened the door to my house. My great friend Nick Scott went a bit overboard in a public place announcing my victory that night, but what the hell.  What I did do was get very, very wrecked. And this is my bragging column for the year.

The Spectator

Another Bush Administration castoff has resurfaced. Who will be next? Don Rumsfeld? First it was Paul D. Wolfowitz, ex-Deputy Director of the Pentagon, now it’s George J. Tenet, ex-CIA Director. Both were intimately involved in dragging Uncle Sam into the Iraq quagmire, the former as an advocate, the latter as an enabler. We all know where “neocon” apparatchik Wolfowitz is coming from. While one is justified in feeling revulsion when contemplating such discredited “neocon” luminaries as Wolfowitz, Libby, Perle and Feith, all of whom are directly responsible for the Iraq war and the aftermath, it is a different story with ex-CIA Director George Tenet. A Bill Clinton carryover, Tenet appears to be little more than an ambitious functionary who lost his way in the heady, dishonest world of Washington, and decided to go with the flow, no matter what. I realize that Dante said “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality,” but Dante was exaggerating.

In the context of railroading American into an unnecessary war, one can almost sympathize with Tenet’s predicament. He was surrounded by “neocons” and their fellow travelers. At the time please take into account that most of official Washington, with very few exceptions—Capitol Hill as well as the White House—was agog for war, so well had the propaganda of the “neocons” and the pressure tactics of the Israel Lobby worked. If Tenet had been diligent and done his homework, he could have informed Cheney and Bush, “Hey, this is crazy. The CIA possesses no indication, much less hard evidence, of WMD in Iraq. The country has been disarmed and neutered by a ten-year embargo of military supplies. Comprehensive economic sanctions have spread malnutrition and disease, killing off as many as 500,000 children. Iraq has been under lock down, and we control its airspace. Iraq is a shell of its former self, and is certainly no conceivable threat to the United States. As for the connection between Saddam and Bin Laden, there is none.” Or words to that effect, which facts Cheney and Bush did not want to hear.

If we were expecting George Tenet to do something like that amidst the hysteria prevailing in Washington and in the country at large during the 2002-2003 run-up to “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” clearly we were expecting too much. Tenet would have been viciously slammed as soft on terrorism, soft on national security and as a defeatist in the “neocon” manufactured contest known as the “clash of civilizations.” Tenet would have been out of a job. On the positive side, maybe he could have derailed the rush to war, even stopped it. We will never know. As it turns out, Tenet is being ridiculed now for good reason, after losing his precious job. In terms of ridicule, one has only to read Maureen Dowd’s NY Times column “More like an Air Ball” to see that Tenet is an outsized target, thanks to his new book, At the Center of the Storm, and deservedly so.

Does Tenet believe he can rehabilitate himself at this point by writing a kiss-and-tell-all book, in which he criticizes Dick Cheney? He can’t. In a word, impossible. Cheney’s ratings and credibility are next to zero, where they should be. It’s a cake-walk now to eviscerate Cheney. His policies are a disaster. The Vice President of the United States belongs either in a monastery, doing penance, or in a federal penitentiary, doing time. Tenet claims that what set him off was Bob Woodward’s 2004 book Plan of Attack. The White House strategy session at which Tenet uses the now infamous phrase “slam dunk” is described in some detail. Having leaked it to Woodward, Cheney then used the incident on “Meet the Press” to offload the blame for the war to the CIA, implying that Tenet’s “slam dunk” findings necessitated the invasion. Only complete fools or professional purveyors of “neocon” agitprop like Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes could possibly have believed such nonsense, to wit, that warnings from the CIA were the basis for invading Iraq. Still, it was the apotheosis of hypocrisy and falsehood, and Tenet took umbrage, or says he did.

As we know, the policy came first, then, almost as an afterthought, came the “intelligence” to justify the policy. Dick Cheney was in charge of both, not the CIA or G.W. Bush. It was Cheney who determined what the intelligence was, not Tenet. It was Cheney who believed, or who pretended to believe, the Feith-based blarney coming out of the Lie Factory in the basement of the “neoconized” Pentagon. Please understand, my non-elitist friends, that it was at the Pentagon, not the CIA,  where the true “intelligence” could be found. One had to accept as trustworthy the Feith-based “intelligence”, because Douglas Feith, Esq. was such an unbiased, objective information gatherer. That was clear from Feith’s previous articles on the subject of Israel and the Middle East, wasn’t it? In short, one can only wonder what George Tenet was doing and thinking when Douglas Feith and his fellow “neocon” apparatchiki were fabricating “intelligence” for the Vice President.

Well, it appears that Tenet was busy briefing G.W. every day, and doing errands on his behalf. Like stepping over to the UN to help out the Administration’s other arch-enabler, Colin Powell, to sell bogus intelligence to the UN Security Council. With Tenet and Powell, we are talking about team players and frontmen above and beyond any conceivable rationale known to rational men, other than just wanting to be part of the scene at any cost. Perhaps you can remember watching that UN showdown in February, 2003. Powell was solemnly delivering his bilge to the Council, with the aristocratic French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, observing Powell and listening to the presentation with a perplexed expression which strongly hinted that, insofar as de Villepin was concerned, Colin Powell had lost his mind. Seated directly behind the hapless Powell were CIA Director George Tenet and career Washington factotum, UN Ambassador John D. Negroponte, about whom the less said the better.

Negroponte wisely kept his head buried in papers. Ditto for Tenet. Was he embarrassed? No doubt he was. But from time to time, Tenet would look up, and sheepishly gaze over the magnificent room and at its distinguished occupants. With his ironic smile, Tenet proclaimed softly but clearly, “Are we actually going to get away with this?” In his just-released book, Tenet now states, “That was about the last place I wanted to be. It was a great presentation, but unfortunately the substance didn’t hold up.” Indeed, it didn’t. But the CIA Director put that misinformation together for Powell to deliver, didn’t he? One can only wonder if George Tenet strongly suspected, as he sat there in the shadows, that what was coming out of Colin Powell’s mouth was so much flapdoodle. Perhaps Dante was right after all.

As the fourth anniversary of his 2003 appearance on the U.S.S. Lincoln in front of a “€œMission Accomplished”€ banner approaches, President Bush has declared the day, May 1, a national holiday, which he said will henceforth be known as Mission Accomplished Day, or MAD for short.

“€œOn this day,”€ Bush said in his televised Oval Office proclamation, “€œAmericans in all walks of life can gather together, now and in future generations, to try and figure out what the mission was and what the heck it accomplished. If anybody does, have them call me.”€

Wearing the same flight suit he had worn in 2003, though he appeared to have it on backwards, Bush stressed the significance of the new holiday, declaring, “€œWell, anyway,  we”€™ve accomplished something. We”€™ve accomplished a new excuse for not showing up for work. And I”€™m going to appoint a presidential panel headed by Harriet Miers and Michael Brown to see if maybe they can get somebody to remembrance what this day of remembrance is all about. At least then we”€™ll have a commission accomplished.”€

Bush concluded his remarks by saying while the holiday would not apply to American troops on extended duty in Iraq or most other working Americans, he and his many cronies could now look forward to a nice, well-deserved rest. But afterward he revealed that he would not be spending the day at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Due to a lack of planning and poor pre-vacation intelligence, the brush that he had been attempting to clear during his most recent stay there has now taken over the entire ranch except for a small “€œGreen Zone”€ where a few blades of grass are still growing.

This small but strategically important patch of greenery was supposed to be protected by a voluntary force of neoconservatives wearing pith helmets and brandishing weed whackers. The so-called Chickenhawk Brigade includes current and former administration officials like Dick Cheney, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith, plus journalists and commentators Christopher Hitchens, William Kristol, Fred Barnes, Rich Lowry, Jonah Goldberg, David Frum, R. Emmett Tyrrell, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity. But after a few minutes on patrol duty, the neocon army dispersed, running for the next flights back to Washington and New York. In a joint statement, they blamed the rout on an unforeseen surge of “€œother priorities”€ which struck without warning and took them by surprise. Taking their place are 300 18-year-old kids who were taken into custody while leaving nearby high schools and who quickly volunteered for the deployment after being told that the alternative was to be subjected to a relentless campaign of rumor-mongering and vilification coordinated by Fox News and funded by Halliburton and AIPAC.    

With his Crawford ranch no longer considered secure, Bush said that he was anticipating a leisurely holiday in the woods “€œdoing a little quail hunting with the vice president.”€ But a White House spokesman quickly clarified the remark, saying that the president would instead “€œspend the holiday pretending to report to the National Guard in Alabama, as once again that looks like the safest option.”€

Eric Kenning is the pen name of a writer in New York. He can be reached at

The casus belli for “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, the invasion of Iraq, was a fraud. We know that now. Even though there was no threat whatever to the United States from Iraq, the decision was made by Richard Cheney in consultation with his junior associate, George W. Bush, to invade and occupy Iraq, a country which had been decimated by an economic embargo and whose army had been cut by two-thirds since 1991. Once the predatory decision had been made, it was necessary to fabricate a plausible justification for it, to “fix the intelligence around the policy”, to use the British phraseology. This required months of a carefully calibrated propaganda campaign to misinform the American public and pressure the U.S. Congress and Senate for the authorization to attack. At the UN in the Security Council, a similar mendacious strategy was underway. At the same time, the White House was suggesting that it did not actually need authorization from the Congress or the UN to initiate hostilities. Why not? Because G.W. Bush is POTUS 43, the commander-in-chief, and as such he can do as he pleases when it comes to national security affairs. The same argument will be made if and when the U.S. attacks Iran.

Let’s be clear. Oil-rich Iraq had nothing to do with the national security of the United States. From the very start, going back to Saddam’s attempted annexation of Kuwait in 1990, Iraq was and remains a political football. What has been done to Iraq by successive Administrations in the name of the American people—beginning with H.W. Bush and “Operation Desert Storm” in 1991 and continuing with Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright and the murderous economic sanctions on Iraq throughout the 1990’s, and highlighted by the bizarre 1998 “Iraq Liberation Act” of Congress, which passed 360-38 in the House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate, and finally in 2003, the invasion of Iraq itself, endorsed by the Democratic leadership on Capital Hill—all of this was based upon American domestic politics and constant pressure from the U.S. Israel Lobby, and not on the legitimate national security concerns of the the United States. What is happening now in 2007 is more of the same, to wit, more politics: the Democrats, many of whom were cheerleaders for the war when it began, are trying to make whatever political mileage they can from the obvious disaster this war has become. There are some intellectually honest individuals, like Congressman John Murtha and Senator Chuck Hagel, but they are the exceptions.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney and what is left of his dwindling gang of “neocons” want to attack Iran, in a last gasp of recklessness and myopia. Bush Jr. is on board, as before, for reasons which remain unclear and unimportant. But the scenario employed to take out Iraq will not work. Why not? Because Cheney and Bush have been exposed as duplicitous. They have hardly an ounce of credibility left. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” has degenerated into a nightmare and many of the “neocon” operatives who carried it out from the Pentagon and from the White House have wisely fled the scene of the crime. One of them, I. “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff as well as a counselor to the President, has been convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with covering up the White House disinformation campaign. In short, the same dog won’t hunt.

Still, attacking Iran is on Tel Aviv’s wish list, as clearly evidenced by AIPAC’s “Policy Conferences” in Washington from the last 3 or 4 years, so something has to be worked out before Cheney and Bush leave office. Actually, the situation is not looking all that bad on Capital Hill for reinstating “the clash of civilizations”, despite the Iraq fiasco. The me-too Democrats, in particular those running for President in 2008, and especially the Republicans running for President, are on record that “all options are on the table” when it comes to Iran. To translate, under the right circumstances, Democratic leaders, and all Presidential contenders, will go along with a U.S. attack on Iran. It just requires the right setup. The White House has only to prepare the bogus circumstances, like it did prior to “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Fine and dandy. Once again, the Democrats are enabling Cheney and Bush to launch another unprovoked war. It was your country.

But there may be an unforeseen problem for the war party. Two months ago, on April 25th, the London Sunday Times reported (”US generals “€˜will quit”€™ if Bush orders Iran attack” by Michael Smith & Sarah Baxter) that a handful of generals and admirals would not obey White House orders to attack Iran, but would resign in the face of such an order. This is astonishing and unprecedented, if true. It appears that a significant number of U.S. military officers have concluded that the two gentlemen in charge at the White House are not playing with a full deck. What does it mean for the warmongers? How will the White House, in cooperation with their “neocon” brain trust, railroad America into another unnecessary war? The largely overlooked and unheralded article in the London Sunday Times provides a good clue. “A second US navy aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS John C Stennis arrived in the Gulf last week, doubling the US presence there. Vice Admiral Patrick Walsh, the commander of the US Fifth Fleet, warned: ‘The US will take military action if ships are attacked or if countries in the region are targeted or US troops come under direct attack.’”€ Read that again. The scenario is in place.

Taking the vice admiral’s statement at face value, this indicates that the White House has ordered the U.S. fleet to attack Iran in the event Iran takes action against any country in the region. An instant war trigger. No need for Congress to act. The me-too Democrats and the brain dead Republicans can relax, sit back and enjoy it. There is no alliance, formal or informal, and no treaty which would require the U.S. to attack Iran in the event Iran “targets” other countries in the region. The only reason Iran would target anybody would be in the event Iran had been targeted first, and Iran was attempting to launch a counter-attack, in other words, defending itself. Get the drift? It is entirely possible that a nuclear-armed Tel Aviv, acting “on its own” but in coordination with Dick Cheney, Elliot Abrams, David Wurmser and maybe even with George W. Bush, will initiate hostilities with a bombing run and/or cruise missile attack on Iran. Then, as soon as Iran attempts to react, Iran will get clobbered with a massive “shock and awe” blitzkrieg carried out by the U.S. air force and navy, which attack will virtually destroy the Iranian military and the Iranian nuclear energy program as well. The final mission accomplished. Cheney and Bush will be back on top in Washington. The shameful and shameless me-too Democrats will be out maneuvered yet again. Life is beautiful. The revenge of the neocons will be complete.

Patrick Foy is author of The Unauthorized World Situation Report.

The first time I met Pat Buckley was in 1964 and the circumstances were rather strange.  It was at the Palace hotel in Gstaad, and a few friends and I
were drinking around the large piano in the grill while the pianist was playing a spirited version of Mussolini’s favorite tune, “Giovinezza.” Our singing the ode to youth and fascism apparently did not best please a tall, bald man standing at the bar who suddenly threw his whiskey glass at us. It smashed against the wall showering us with glass, although no one was cut or seriously hurt.

Under normal circumstances a fight would have ensued but there was a problem. The tall baldie had his arm in a cast, and an even taller lady was giving him hell for having thrown the projectile. So as five rowdies surrounded the couple demanding an apology—it was not given—the lady turned to me, the obvious ringleader and Mussolini fan, and in an upper class accent asked me to dinner “at the chateau, tomorrow evening, and don’t be late….”  This did have a calming effect and we soon dispersed. At the time I had heard of Bill Buckley but had never met him or ever read National Review. (I was living in Europe at the time). I was intrigued and very curious to meet the Buckleys,  so the next evening I drove to nearby Rougemont, where the 16th century Chateau de Rougemont was rented by the Buckleys every winter for close to 35 years.  I was not to be disappointed.

The glass thrower turned out to be Alistair Horne, the historian and a man who was to become a very close friend.  Ken Galbraith was also present,
and upon hearing the circumstances of how Horne, Pat and I had met, immediately lectured me against the theory that anyone who can make the trains run on time in the land of pasta must be a very good man.  There was also Dimitri Nabokov, son of Vladimir, David Niven and his wife,  and Bill Buckley’s sister Patricia. Pat seated me on her right, as I was a first time guest, a noblesse oblige gesture which did not go unnoticed. As Rick told Captain Renault, it was the start of a beautiful friendship which ended early Sunday morning, April 15, 2007.

Pat Buckley’s numerous obituaries have mentioned her charitable and social activities which were awesome, to say the least, and also how she always described herself as a mother and housewife, first and foremost. Obituaries by nature have to stick to facts,  and because of the dryness of facts,  at times the real person does not emerge. What always came to mind first about Pat was her incredible sense of humor. She looked and acted like Kay Kendall, the English madcap actress of the late Fifties, pretending to take umbrage at the dirty jokes I was always on about, and screaming at the top of her lungs whenever I would bring some floozy to her house. “You are not welcome here unless my darling Alexandra is with you,” she would shout, and then wink at me and tell me to sit down.

One year, 1970 I believe, I had lost all my money gambling and was staying at the chateau after Pat had taken pity of my reduced circumstances. Christopher Buckley, back then a 14-year-old, had shortsheeted my bed and attached a large bucket of water over my bedroom door, a bucket that would tilt the moment the door was opened. The reason for this was that I had yet again got into a poker game in Gstaad, and had gone missing for couple of days. Pat and Bill were going to a gala dinner that night, and Pat, worried about my long absence, went to my room to leave me a note. Drenched and her dress ruined she sat on my bed and roared with laughter, thinking it was I who had set the trap.

That’s the kind of person she was. She always saw the funny side first. When I started writing for National Review she prevented me from going to
Albania because she thought it too dangerous. When I protested to Bill he shook his head and said, “Well, you know how Patsy is once she gets
something into her head…. “You cost me a Pulitzer Prize, I complained to Pat, but it was nothing doing. “I don’t care what I cost you, you are not going to that horrid place.”

And so it went throughout the years. One summer on board my boat Pat took one look at the Spartan surroundings, and in no time had the whole thing outfitted with modern comforts. Two years ago she came on my new boat, sweetly complimented me,  and told me how she missed the old sailer and the incredible discomforts sailing her entailed.  She lived in great pain for most of her life but I never heard her complain once. In this day and age where everyone feels a victim, Pat Buckley was a shining example of fortitude and courage and grace under pressure. My heart goes out to her husband of sixty years who has lost a unique treasure.  

The American Conservative

Every once in a while the political spectrum changes polarities, and the traditional concepts of “Left” and “Right” undergo a radical transformation: wars have this effect, quite often, and, in the present case, the political landscape is shifting before our eyes.


How do I know this? Well, suddenly I find myself agreeing with all kinds of people I would never have given the time of day to: Dennis Kucinich, The Nation, the folks at It’s uncanny, but understandable, given that George Bush and the “conservative” movement have signed on to a program of perpetual war abroad and the unlimited power of the executive branch on the home front. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And I also find that it isn’t just the Iraq war, and our crazed foreign policy, that I find myself agreeing with lefties on: I see that at least one liberal writer has now come to agree with us paleocons on a vitally important issue, one that unites us no matter what our other differences, and that is the Jonah Goldberg Question.


I made this pleasant discovery in a interview with Eric Alterman, a columnist for The Nation, conducted by bluestocking-babe Garance Franke-Ruta, in which Alterman bemoaned the lack of “conservatives with whom I can respectfully disagree,” or even “learn from and admire,” instead of merely disdain. The lovely Garance confesses to an affection for Andrew Sullivan, which provokes Alterman to complain that he just isn’t getting any support anymore for his unabated hatred of Sullivan. (Hey, Eric, you are – see here, and here, and here!) Alterman makes an argument that many of us paleocons have been making for years: that Bush has so corrupted the conservative movement that there’s none left he can respect. Christopher Caldwell is mentioned, and Richard Brookhiser is given the thumbs-up as “a decent fellow.” And that seems about it. David Brooks – he’s “gone off the deep end,” says Alterman (too much of that neocon Kool-Aid, no doubt). Alterman doesn’t like the neocons, clearly, and he especially doesn’t cotton to Jonah Goldberg, The ascension of Goldberg, avers Alterman, dramatizes the intellectual bankruptcy of the Right, and shows how much conservatism has turned into “movement shtick.”


Paleocons have long cited National Review columnist and well-known Mama’s boy Jonah Goldberg as the epitome of all they find contemptible in the “new” (i.e. neocon-ized) conservative movement: Paul Gottfried coined the term “Goldbergism” to describe what has replaced the old conservatism of Frank S.Meyer and Russell Kirk in the pages of National Review. Whatever else we paleos disagree about – and, not being a party-lining, neo-Trotskyite cult, we often disagree about many things – we can all agree on one overriding principle: Jonah Goldberg represents All That Has Gone Wrong. Or, as Paul Gottfried so memorably put it: “Goldbergism – The Lowest (Terminal) Stage of Conservatism.”


Just look at how this young up-and-comer rose to his present position. It was Jonah’s mother, Lucianne Goldberg, who advised Monica Lewinsky to record her conversations with Bill Clinton, and save the infamous stained blue dress, and he was privy to all that: as he put it, “I did my bit in the trenches of Clinton’s trousers” – and it launched his career as a “conservative” luminary. He went from being a retailer of dirt, to a retailer of neoconservative talking points – not a very difficult transition to make.


Goldberg has taken a series of positions that limn the neoconservative heresy to a tee:


· We must go to war with Iraq in order to save Israel’s neck, and, by the way, just to demonstrate our destructive power. As we were about to invade Iraq, he wrote:


“It seems obvious, to me at least, that the destruction of Israel — be it slow or fast — would be perceived as further dissolution of the American Empire. So, as a matter of cold political calculation, avoiding war now would only delay the inevitable, leaving Israel at the mercy of states dedicated to its death (or at least its constant insecurity). In short, the destruction of Israel would launch the next war, it would not avert it.


“So how does all this, or the humble attempt at a history lesson of my last column, justify tearing down the Baghdad regime? Well, I’ve long been an admirer of, if not a full-fledged subscriber to, what I call the "Ledeen Doctrine." I’m not sure my friend Michael Ledeen will thank me for ascribing authorship to him and he may have only been semi-serious when he crafted it, but here is the bedrock tenet of the Ledeen Doctrine in more or less his own words: "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business."


This, it seems to me, displays the same mentality as exhibited in the rantings of the Virginia Tech killer: we have to terrorize people just because we can, just because we’re angry – and just because it’s time to show them who’s boss. It’s pure sadism, in other words, that motivated Goldberg to stand on the sidelines and cheer as the greatest military disaster in American military history was launched.


Here’s another pillar of the Goldbergian “conservative” dispensation:


· Political correctness must come before conservative principles, because the only conservative principle worth preserving is loyalty to the Republican party. As Trent Lott was being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, Goldberg averred:


“The idea that fairness to Lott should supersede what’s good for the Republican party is of a piece with precisely the sort of back-scratching, log-rolling mentality that got the GOP in trouble in the first place. It bespeaks a mind-set that says, “Well, Senator so-and-so voted for my pet project, so in fairness to him, I’ll vote for his.” Nowhere does this calculation figure in the good of the country. Lott’s rehab is a nice story — for Lott. But it’s hard to see how it will have a happy ending for the rest of us.”


The only problem is that there is no ending: it started with Senator Lott, but it won’t end with Don Imus.


· Speaking of enforcers, neoconservatives of the Goldbergian ilk are the chief enforcers of political correctness in the U.S.


Goldberg has long vied with David “Axis of Evil” Frum for the role of chief enforcer of the neocons. Back in the day, he complained to the Cato Institute’s Tom Palmer that libertarians weren’t doing enough to “police their own movement.” What he meant was that it was time for libertarians to rid themselves of “radicals” (i.e. libertarians who take libertarianism seriously, as opposed to treating it like something between a counter-cultural sideshow and an intellectual parlor game) like me. (Palmer has since tried taking him up on his challenge, albeit without much success.) He took a leading role in the smearing of Pat Buchanan, another “police action” that had little effect, and when Commissar Frum issued his fatwa against antiwar conservatives, there was Goldberg, cackling and rubbing his hands together in glee like some comic strip villain.


Of course, now that the war he and his fellow Israel-Firsters wanted has turned into such an unmitigated disaster that not even they can deny it any longer, they have taken to denying … their own existence. Neocons? What neocons? According to Goldberg, there ain’t no such creature as a neoconservative – it’s all a scheme by nefarious “anti-Semites” who couldn’t bring themselves to say the word “Jew” and so had to content themselves with a “code word” like neocon. It didn’t matter that the intellectual authors of neoconservatism were writing screeds hailing “the neoconservative persuasion” or that the saga of the neocons’ migration from far left to “moderate” right was well-known to intellectual historians – it was all a myth, a canard, and a smear, personally directed at him!


As one of our leading advocates of torture – it would be “dogmatism” to oppose it – Goldberg is surely doing his part to inure us to the practice, as reading his prose is – I hope – the closest thing to torture that I’ll ever experience.


This is to say nothing of his sillier sallies into High Theory: such as his long treatise (in two parts!) on why we should invade and “liberate” Africa, a real classic of Goldbergiana. Or his venture into on-the-spot reporting, such as his breathless account, in the early days of Iraq’s “liberation,” of supposedly grateful Iraqis greeting us with rose petals and cries of “Bush!” That particular piece he had the nerve – or utter cluelessness – to title “Antiwar Shame.” Yet it is he who knows no shame, as the war he assured us would be victorious—and even lots of fun—turned into the nightmare that won’t go away.


Having dragged the GOP down to the status of a small, beleaguered cult, and reduced the conservative movement to an adjunct of AIPAC, the neocons still maintain their characteristic arrogance: humility is not part of their psychological makeup. Even as the American Right crumbles all around them, Goldberg & Co. assure the stockholders that the company still has value, but the signs of intellectual bankruptcy are unmistakable – Goldberg himself being one of them.

Image courtesy of Vinyl Abuse.

Americans should really read this article from the Sunday Observer of London, discussing the latest terrorist outrages in Iraq.

On the one hand, every thinking and informed person, who has not been fooled, is perplexed, repulsed and horrified at the carnage inflicted upon the people of Iraq by those suicide terrorists setting off car and truck bombs among civilians. On the other hand, that same informed individual from America or Europe is disgusted with Dick Cheney and George Bush and with their treasonable band of “neocons” for invading Iraq in the first place and employing a pack of lies to do it. The writer of The Observer article tries to make sense out of all this. He does as well as can be expected under the circumstances. You can’t make sense out of madness.

The situation is an absolute shambles. You have civil wars within a civil war, in addition to a determined and resourceful guerrilla war against a foreign invader. In this foolish enterprise which the U.S. Senate authorized, Cheney and Bush continue to perpetuate yet another fraud every time they talk about “victory” under such circumstances. It is not our troops against the bad guys. It is our troops stuck in the midst of chaos and among homicidal maniacs, many of whom are religious fanatics, who are trying to kill each other, in addition to killing us. It is a triangulation from hell. William Pfaff made the important observation in a recent column from Paris (April 12th) that “The war of the fundamentalists is against other Moslems. It is not primarily a war against the West, which the extremists could not possibly win, and which concerns them only so far as the West interferes in the Moslem world.” That is part of the equation in Iraq. We’ve got Sunni fundamentalists and Shia fundamentalists and al-Qaeda fundamentalists all trying to kill us and each other.

Looking at it strictly from the perspective of the West, as outsiders, Cheney and Bush have certainly created more problems in Iraq than they solved by invading Iraq. Aside from Cheney, Bush, their diehard “neocon” associates, and assorted fools who still take Rush Limbaugh and Condoleezza Rice seriously, everybody I hope would have to agree with that premise. It is an objective fact. If ever there were an argument in favor of a U.S. foreign policy based upon “isolationism”, it’s got to be the upshot from “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Walk softly, and mind your own business—for the sake of humanity and for your own well being. Maybe that is what Washington, Jefferson and Madison had in mind from the start.

The House of Representatives reconvened this week after its Easter Recess.  A key legislative item is the renewed effort to begin the process of transmogrifying the District of Columbia into the functional equivalent of a State of the Union—and to do so without the benefit of an amendment to the Constitution.   Never underestimate how wily liberal leadership can be.   The proposal is claimed to be nothing more than according the District’s Delegate to the House full voting privileges.  The pitch is wrapped in the appealing clothing of citizenship, democracy, enfranchisement, voting rights, combined with a racial tinge (as though an opponent were a racist).

(Not surprisingly, quieter and less influential folk are interested in pursuing Congressional seats for Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands “€“ and Puerto Rico if the faltering independence movement fails were the D.C. measure to succeed.)

The reality is easy to come by.  Read the Washington Post, the Washington Times, or any other cognizant publication, or talk with, or listen to, a D. C.  politician or anybody remotely familiar with D. C. politics.   The real effort is to create the functional equivalent of one Member of the House of Representatives and two United States Senators.  It’s the PR and legislative equivalent of the proverbial camel’s nose in the tent but it’s far cleverer than any beast of burden.  Begin with a House seat; keep the two D.C. so-called “€œshadow United States Senators”€ out of sight; avoid – maybe, desecrate? – the Constitution step by step.

The cause has the oft-touted appeal of “€œbipartisanship”€ because a Republican Member (himself an adroit and ambitious leader and PR master) loudly co-sponsors the House measure.

The House is likely to pass the measure, the Senate less likely.   Presidential advisors are advising President George W. Bush to veto (which veto almost assuredly would be sustained). If the proposal jumps these hurdles a Constitutional challenge in the Federal Judiciary would follow. The Congressional Research Service already has opined that the measure is unconstitutional.   Those few legal scholars who have researched the question are not in accord with one another. (I find the negative scholarship more persuasive than the affirmative but have not researched independently.)

A Constitutional amendment is unlikely to succeed, requiring, as it would, ratification by 38 State legislatures.  In 1978 Congress sent to the States a proposed amendment which would have granted the District of Columbia a voting House seat. Few State legislatures ratified the proposed amendment; the (very generous) seven-year period for ratification expired; no amendment.

The option of retrocession to the State of Maryland remains, cumbersome though it may be to achieve in light of D. C. politicians”€™ self-interest.   If the principal goal of D. C. politicians were fully to enfranchise D. C. residents on the same basis as residents of the fifty States retrocession would achieve the goal.  D. C. residents would become Marylanders, just as, since 1847, D. C. residents and their successors west of the Potomac River have been Virginians. Those residents would fit in well politically with Maryland, a liberal State. The Nation’s Capital, as the Framers intended, would comprise that small and monumental area housing the key offices (and the many monuments) of the Federal Government—the White House and major federal agencies, Congress, the Supreme Court. (Several key offices—e.g., the Department of Defense—are already outside the District of Columbia, for which their functioning clearly is none the worse.) The Nation’s Capital would be just that, not a city embarrassingly noted for its crime – and for a local government of unmatched proportionately numerous bureaucracy and (at best, erratic) incompetence.

—A Free Congress Foundation Commentary

Marion Edwyn Harrison is President of, and Counsel to, The Free Congress Foundation.

In case you were planning a career as a nasty, mean-spirited shock-jock, who makes his living using his media pulpit to slam people who mostly can’t (or won’t) fight back, here’s a handy tip: Stick to attacking our culture’s designated pinatas. Working-class whites, Southerners, all white Protestants (but especially Evangelicals), stay-at-home moms, and Mormons are all safe targets. In most circles, Arabs and the French are fair game, too.

Feel especially free to trash Catholics, of course. The admirable Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights has highlighted the extent of the double standard applied to the defamation of Christians and of other groups in the U.S. League president Bill Donohue commented on the way Catholic bashers are treated as compared to Don Imus:

“€œTwo years ago, Penn Jillette (of the comedy team Penn and Teller) went on Showtime calling Mother Teresa “€˜Mother F”€”king Teresa”€™ and called the nuns who worked with her “€˜f”€”king c”€”ts.”€™ Showtime is owned by Viacom and that is why I wrote to its chief, Sumner Redstone, to register a complaint. He wrote back extolling the merits of “€˜artistic freedom”€™ and “€˜tolerance.”€™ Last year, on Viacom-owned CBS radio, Jillette said Mother Teresa “€˜had this weird kink that I think was sexual,”€™ compared the saintly nun to Charles Manson and said she “€˜got her [sexual] kicks watching people suffer and die.”€™ Again, nothing was done about this.

“€œIn 2005, Bill Maher went on HBO at the time of the death of Pope John Paul II and said, “€˜For those who could not make the funeral, the Vatican has asked that in lieu of flowers, just stop touching your d”€”k.”€™ He also said that the whole story of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the Resurrection was “€˜grafted from paganism”€™; he ended by mocking the death of the pope and the upcoming conclave. The letter I received from HBO said that “€˜it’s a free country, and people are free to say silly things”€”even on HBO.”€™

“€œRight before Easter, the Catholic League protested the chocolate Jesus with his genitals exposed that was to be shown in the art gallery of the Roger Smith Hotel in midtown Manhattan (located on street level, the public was invited to eat him). Air America radio co-host Cenk Uygur, writing on “€˜The Huffington Post,”€™ said, “€˜So is the argument that Jesus didn”€™t have a d”€”k? Or were people offended because it was too big? Too Small? Too immaculate? Not immaculate enough?”€™ Regarding Imus’s remark, Uygur called it “€˜derogatory and insulting.”€™

“€œSimilarly, Joan Walsh on said the chocolate Jesus was not “€˜a big deal,”€™ and advised people not to go see it if they didn”€™t like it. She has now called on Imus to be fired. Even New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said “€˜don”€™t pay any attention”€™ to the chocolate Jesus, but he now finds it necessary to brand Imus”€™ comments “€˜repugnant.”€™

“€œIn other words, Catholic bashing is humorous and an exercise in liberty. Racism is awful. Bigotry, then, is neither good nor bad”€”it just depends who the target is.”€

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, there was an attempt going around D.C. to kill my American Conservative article "Obama’s Identity Crisis" before I’d even finished it. Now, the would-be censor, some guy named Alexander Konetzki, recounts in the Washington Monthly his heroic effort to silence my questioning of the Presidential candidate’s media image:

“Ever since Barack Obama burst onto the political stage in 2004, pundits have taken to calling the junior senator from Illinois a rock star. He inspires, they say, with his youth, intelligence, and soaring oratory. He transcends race. This flattering picture, which makes even the senator blush, has seldom been challenged by political commentators or the public. And as of mid-March 2007, no one had tried in earnest to subvert the idea that, as president, Obama could help ease America’s racial tensions because his mother was white and his father was black. But that’s exactly what Steve Sailer, a columnist for the anti-immigration site, tried to do in a piece he submitted to the American Conservative magazine, where, at the time, I was assistant editor. Using quotes from Obama’s 1995 autobiography, Dreams From My Father, Sailer portrayed the senator not as a unifying figure, but as an angry black nationalist who completely rejected his white racial heritage as a young man and might do the same as president.”

Well, we can’t have people going around reading and even quoting a potential President’s autobiography, now can we? Some things, such as Obama’s image, are just too sacred to "subvert." Now, much as I would like to take credit for being the only journalist to notice the blatant contradictions between Obama’s campaign spiel and his autobiography, quite a few others have noticed it too. I quote three of them here. Further, Obama’s account of his Hawaiian upbringing has since been exploded by the many reporters during the late winter who made the supreme sacrifice of taking an expense account trip to Hawaii to interview Obama’s schoolmates. The Washington Monthly doesn’t even bother providing a link to my article, which might allow readers to judge it for themselves. Jim Antle comments in the American Spectator blog:

This kind of groundbreaking investigative reporting is why I read the Washington Monthly. I confess: When I went to work for the American Conservative, I was shocked to discover it was a conservative magazine. Then I came to The American Spectator and quickly learned that by some strange coincidence, it too was a conservative magazine! With all this conservatism being published in conservative magazines, I don’t know what critics of the liberal media are talking about. Fortunately, we can read informative articles about this shocking experience. (Hat tip: The Corner, the blog of yet another conservative magazine.)

Konetzki claims Obama’s book "flatly contradicts" my article, but, predictably, he can’t document that lie. As for what little that is even allegedly substantive in Konetzki’s piece, he disputes my contention:

The happy ending to Dreams is that Obama’s hard-drinking half-brother Roy—“Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage”—converts to teetotaling Islam.

Allow me to suggest opening up Obama’s autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race an Inheritance and reading the last page and a half of the book (pp. 441-442 in the paperback), beginning with the sentences:

"The person who made me proudest of all, though, was Roy. Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage.”

Of course, reading Obama’s book is not something many of my critics, such as Matt Yglesias (whose attack on me Konetzki approvingly cites), have actually gotten around to doing. Back in 2000, we elected President a pig in a poke. How’d that work out for us? This time, with Obama, we at least have a non-ghost written autobiography of some literary merit, so we don’t have the excuse we had with Bush that he’s too boring to think about. But, when it comes to Obama, lots of people just want to hope, not read or think.

Reprinted with permission from Steve Sailer’s blog.