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Showing posts from March 27, 2005

The masons are in retreat

It seems like a good day to recall Pius IX. Pio Nono, it is said, was a great favorite of the present Pope’s (present, as of today). This is no doubt why, in 2000, his beatification was set in motion. Commonweal at the time published an article (“No No Pio Nono” ) that began straightforwardly enough: “Is Pope Pius IX , who occupied the throne of Peter from 1846 to 1878 , with God? We certainly hope so. But is this author of the notorious "Syllabus of Errors" (1864), diehard defender of the papacy's temporal rule, unyielding foe of freedom of conscience, speech, thought, and religion, of Protestantism, ecumenism, and the separation of church and state, a figure to be singled out for public veneration by the Catholic church? Is this a man whose life and character should be celebrated and held up for imitation? And should he be yoked, in memory and honor, with Pope John XXIII who called the Second Vatican Council, in part, to heal the wounds that Pius spent much of his pon
Trying to make my comments section work on both Mozilla and IE6, LI inadvertantly erased all the comments. It has been a blogger hell morning. Sorry. The comments section should work, however, on all browsers.
A couple of days ago, LI took our inner Mencken out for a stroll over a conservative blog, Right Reason. One of the guys who produces Right Reason, Max Goss, actually noticed -- which pleases our vanity, we must admit, even as it has become a bit of a bemusement how, properly, to respond. Goss makes four points about our post, but doesn't address the central issue in it, re the contemporary conservative drift from the central theme of conservatism. We think that there is one justified complaint running through all of Goss's objections, which is that we used a disproportionately defamatory tone when writing about the weblog, without really quoting from it. As he says, 4. "Right Reason is the perfect blog for the era of big government conservatives: it is bold, brassy, and speaks in talk radio vulgate for the vulgar." Here I am simply at a loss. Which posts resemble the speech of, say, Michael Savage?" That said, we think Goss doesn't quite get LI's objec
"clearness, simplicity, no twistified or foggy sentences, at all." LI recommends William Logan’s article on Whitman in this season’s Virginia Quarterly Review: Prisoner, Fancy-Man, Rowdy, Lawyer, Physician, Priest: Whitman's Brags. (inexplicably, they don’t have the toc up on their site). A brag comes, Logan claims, from the Scot’s practice of flyting: "Whitman's poetry treated American English—I mean the English that Americans spoke—as more than a dialect, not tbe literary English of literary men. Literary English was a censored language, but not all America was censored. Listen: I'm a Salt River roarer! I'm a ring-tailed squealer! I'm a reg'lar screamer from the ol' Massassip'i WHOOP! . . . I'm half wild horse and half cock-eyed alligator and the rest o' me is crooked snags an' red-hot snappin' turkle. I can hit like fourth-proof lightnin' an' every lick I make in the woods lets in an acre o' sunshine. I
The freak show ideology of big government conservatism My friend Paul wrote me a while ago to recommend that I visit Right Reason. He said that it was a site aiming at becoming a sort of rightwing version of Common Timber. So I visited the site, but was shocked to find that I knew some of the writers. In fact, I had T.A.-ed for one in the long ago. My acquaintance entailed strong and negative extra-ideological opinions. However, I do believe the writers there that I know are highly intelligent. All the more reason to find the site rather shocking. If you compare an average week of posting on Right Reason with, say, an issue of National Review from 1966, you will find a catastrophic lowering of the intellectual level. In the age of big government conservatism, the freak show faction, which has always played a large role in practical conservative politics, has taken over the brain. Gangrene has set in. What happened? American conservatism in 1966 was embedded in a struggle with world
Another fine colonial war you've got us into, Stanley! “Keep the dogs hungry and they will follow you.” That, according to journalist Chris Kutschera, was the motto of Sultan Said bin Taimur, who ruled Oman and Muscat, as it was called, from 1932 to 1970. Kutschera’s color piece tells a lot about Oman at the time. “There were, in all Oman and Dhofar, three primary schools and not a single secondary school. Students who wanted to pursue their studies had to leave their country illegally and start a long life of exile in the Persian Gulf or Kuwait. It was forbidden to build new houses, or to repair the old ones; forbidden to install a lavatory or a gas stove; forbidden to cultivate new land, or to buy a car without the Sultan’s permission. No one could smoke in the streets, go to movies or beat drums; the army used to have a band, but one day the Sultan had the instruments thrown into the sea. A few foreigners opened a club: he had it shut, “probably because it was a place where o
The Dhofar War LI’s memory was pinged, recently, when we read a jolly, he’s-a-mercenary-so-he’s-okay interview by Thomas Catan with the head of an agency of hired killers, Alistair Morrison, in the Financial Times. Here’s how the article starts: “As a waiter leads me to the table where Alastair Morrison is sitting, I brace myself for a bone-crushing military hand grip and a sergeant-major greeting. I needn't have worried. For a former SAS hardman - famous for storming a Lufthansa airliner in 1970s Mogadishu and liquidating the hijackers onboard - he has a pleasant, soft-spoken way about him. Immaculately dressed in a dark blazer and tie, he sits in a neat, self-contained manner, his back against the wall. I find myself leaning nearly halfway across the table to hear what he is saying. Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Morrison pioneered the modern- day private military industry (a term he dislikes), which has since burgeoned into a multi-billion pound global business. "I nev