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Every Time I sit to Write

I instead turn to see what is being written of WFB


Wednesday Hero

Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Michael E. KochNavy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Michael E. Koch
29 years old from State College, Pennsylvania
East Coast-based SEAL team
February 4, 2008

“There are only approximately 2,500 SEALs in the Navy and they really are a brotherhood,” said Naval Special Warfare spokesman Lt. David Luckett. “This is another unfortunate reminder of the risks and sacrifices these amazing warriors and their families make on a daily basis.”

Koch leaves behind his parents and a fiancee. He enlisted in July 1998 and entered SEAL training in January 1999, according to The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk. He received the Bronze Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal and three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

Navy SEAL Michael E. Koch died Feb. 4 after being wounded by small-arms fire during combat operations in Iraq alongside fellow SEAL Nathan Hardy, who was profiled last week.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.

We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Wednesday Heroes are written by Indian Chris as part of a non-partisan effort to recognize the bravery of our men in uniform.

Others Participating in the Wednesday Hero effort:

Conservative Canon Author Discussion

Bill Buckley

Since his passing is as good a time as any, let us discuss the great works of William Francis Buckley Jr.

Here are his books:

(2008) Flying High: Remembering Barry Goldwater. Perseus Publishing. ISBN 9780465008360.
(2007) Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription; Notes and Asides from National Review Magazine
(2004) Miles Gone By; A Literary Autobiography
(2004) The Fall of the Berlin Wall.
(2001) Let Us Talk of Many Things: The Collected Speeches.
(1998) Buckley: The Right Word.
(1998) The Lexicon: A Cornucopia of Wonderful Words for the Inquisitive Word Lover.
(1997) Nearer My God: An Autobiography of Faith.
(1993) Happy Days Were Here Again: Reflections of a Libertarian Journalist.
(1992) In Search of Anti-Semitism.
(1992) WindFall: The End of the Affair.
(1990) Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country.
(1989) On the Firing Line: The Public Life of Our Public Figures.
(1988) Big Game Hunting in Central Africa.
(1987) Racing through Paradise: A Pacific Passage.
(1985) Right Reason: A Collection.
(1984) Airborne: A Sentimental Journey.
(1983) Overdrive: A Personal Documentary.
(1982) Atlantic High: A Celebration.
(1978) Hymnal: The Controversial Arts.
(1966) Unmaking of a Mayor.
(1975) Execution Eve and Other Contemporary Ballads.
(1974) United Nations Journal: A Delegate’s Odyssey.
(1973) Four Reforms: A Guide for the Seventies.
(1972) Inveighing We Will Go.
(1971) Cruising Speed: A Documentary.
(1970) The Governor Listeth: A Book of Inspired Political Revelations.
(1969) Odyssey of a Friend: Whittaker Chambers’ Letters to William F. Buckley, Jr. 1954-1961.
(1963) Rumbles Left and Right: A Book About Troubling People and Ideas
(1961) Up From Liberalism.
(1954) McCarthy and His Enemies: The Record and Its Meaning.
(1951) God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of Academic Freedom.

Fiction (-his Blackford Oakes series):

(2007) The Rake: A Novel.
(2003) Getting It Right.
(2002) Nuremberg: The Reckoning.
(2001) Elvis in the Morning.
(2001) Spytime: The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton.
(1999) The Redhunter: A Novel Based on the Life of Senator Joe McCarthy.
(1995) Brothers No More. Harvest/HBJ Book.
(1985) The Temptation of Wilfred Malachey.

Seeing such an incredible number of books makes me wish to reconsider my 3 books per author rule. Here are my picks:

The Redhunter: A Novel Based on the Life of Senator Joe McCarthy.
God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of Academic Freedom.
Up From Liberalism.
Unmaking of a Mayor.
Let Us Talk of Many Things: The Collected Speeches.
Miles Gone By; A Literary Autobiography

(“Nearer My God” was an important book to me personally but this is a conservative canon, not necessarily a Catholic one)

So, which three books go on the canon?

Update: NRO Weighs in (Sorta)

ISI has some stuff on Buckley too.

Bill Buckley

Just hearing news that the great one, Bill Buckley, has passed on. He was my greatest influence when it came to writing and politics.


Considering I never met Bill Buckley, it surprises me how saddened I am now that he’s gone. My first introduction to Buckley was a television program, it was on C-Span (I never did seen an episode of Firing Line). Buckley and the C-Span host were going through all the books Buckley had written. Trying to date the program, there were 44 books discussed. It was long too, over an hour. I was awestruck anyone could write so many books. At the end of the interview, the host asked him if there was anything else he wanted to do, and the wit turned on and Buckley said “go to the bathroom.”

The columnists I read are all under “Da Roll.” I try to read every column of all those people but I often fail. But, I do read every column of Thomas Sowell and every column of WFB. Sowell now for about four years, WFB for 9 years. In fact, I’ve been doing a lot of research for the Conservative Canon and that has involved reading scores of Buckley’s old columns. He’s such a huge part of modern conservatism it’s difficult to put into words.

Take the time to read The Corner today and hear what others are saying about the man.

NYT Obituary
NR Obituary

Ransom Link o’ the Day:


New Conservatism

Whether it’s from “The Emerging Democratic Majority” or “Getting to Purple*,” most statistical projections see the Republican Party taking a backseat in government for the next few years. In a Newsweek column this week, Fareed Zakaria writes:

Conservatism grew powerful in the 1970s and 1980s because it proposed solutions appropriate to the problems of the age—a time when socialism was still a serious economic idea, when marginal tax rates reached 70 percent, and when the government regulated the price of oil and natural gas, interest rates on checking accounts and the number of television channels. The culture seemed under attack by a radical fringe. It was an age of stagflation and crime at home, as well as defeat and retreat abroad. Into this landscape came Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, bearing a set of ideas about how to fix the world. Over the next three decades, most of their policies were tried. Many worked. Others didn’t, but in any event, time passed and the world changed profoundly. Today, as Frum writes, “after three decades of tax cutting, most Americans no longer pay very much income tax.” Inflation has been tamed, the economy does not seem overregulated to most, and crime is not at the forefront of people’s consciousness. The culture has proved robust, and has in fact been enriched and broadened by its diversity. Abroad, the cold war is won and America sits atop an increasingly capitalist world. Whatever our problems, an even bigger military and more unilateralism are not seen as the solution.

Today’s world has a different set of problems. A robust economy has not lifted the median wages of Americans by much. Most workers are insecure about health care, and most corporations are unnerved by its rising costs. Globalization is seen as a threat, bringing fierce competition from dozens of countries. The danger of Islamic militancy remains real and lasting, but few Americans believe they understand the phenomenon or know how best to combat it. They see our addiction to oil and the degradation of the environment as real dangers to a stable and successful future. Most crucially, Americans’ views of the state are shifting. They don’t want bigger government—a poll last year found that a majority (57 percent) still believe that government makes it harder for people to get ahead in life—but they do want a smarter government, one that can help them be safe, secure and well prepared for political and economic challenges. In this context, conservative slogans sound weirdly anachronistic, like watching an old TV show from … well, from the 1970s.

Well, in a way being conservative is anachronistic but I’ll leave the acuteness of this assessment to the reader’s judgment. My wish here is to begin the discussion of creating a new, sellable form of conservatism which isn’t an anachronism to voters. Here are my thoughts on using some conservative principles, not as ends but as a means to accomplish the voters’ wishes:

1) Encourage transparency in government. Shine light on all the workings of government, from the lowest to the highest levels. Make budgets available online for all to see. This will hope not only find waste but to work to eliminate it.

2) Focus on getting rid of waste. The earmarks, pork projects, associate executive resource rights and services coordinators. Government needs to be made much more efficient and a lot of public employees should probably be fired. Using basic business management government can be made to resemble something useful.

3) [Might need to break up the public workers unions to accomplish #2, this might be unpopular, but it can be done as part of a right to work campaign.]

4) For K-12 education focus on having the money follow the kids. Give parents choice when it comes to their children’s education. School vouchers, charter schools, homeschooling, whatever. Competition will make for better education. This isn’t unpopular with several important demographics. Bush is already trying to do this with K-12 Pell Grants. These things again run into unions, this time teachers unions, and standing up to them will be very important in the future.

5) Introduce more data-based decision making. Liberals don’t prioritize well. In the depression grain was burned and pigs were slaughtered in order to keep prices high and help farmers, but this action added to famine problems. By focusing on cost-benefits, opportunity costs and other economic analysis the GOP can prioritize the actions of the government in terms of dollars spent and lives saved.

6) And, based on some data-based recommendations, the GOP should lead a charge to change unemployment benefits and services. The focus should be on training and helping people find jobs, not on passing out checks. Getting people employed, while doubtful a proper role of government, is a more efficient than the present unemployment system.

7) Offer choice in social security. Allow people to either continue with the present system or to have partial to full privatization of their accounts. Offer tax-free retirement accounts on top of that and do the same with tax free education and healthcare accounts. Give incentives to save and make the right personal financial choices.

8) Promote new energy, not with subsidization but with incentives. Hybrids and electric cars should earn tax breaks, the same goes for solar panels and wind generators. We also need Republicans to encourage updating and expanding our nuclear energy capabilities.

9) A republic, not an empire. The Republican Party again needs to remind the voters we’re not imperialists, we only intervene in the affairs of other nations when our security is in danger. (As someone who supports intervention in Darfur as well as someone who would have supported intervention in Rwanda, this one smarts a bit. The voters are just tired of international involvement.)

10) Encourage property ownership and business creation. The Democrats like to say they’re for the little guys but whenever the option pops up of taxing the proletariat they are always first on board. In Minnesota we see this even now, presently the Democrats are planning to override a gubernatorial veto in order to raise gas taxes and car licensure fees. Democrats don’t differentiate between regressive or progressive taxation, when their cloak is removed it’s clear for all to see they simply support taxation.

11) Republicans need to become the party of the little guy. Lowering the bar for small business by decreasing red tape and giving tax breaks is a must. Pointing out the Democrats love of proletariat (or, I guess the term for it now is “middle and lower classes”) taxation and working against it. All these tax breaks need to be offset with other revenue sources, I’m a fan of taxing wealth or the consumption tax (this tax is a bit regressive but the form of it Mike Huckabee supports includes monthly checks for people under a certain income level to offset the increased costs of necessities. (#10 & #11 I haven’t thought out completely so there’s room for criticism and improvement; helping the little guy is the point, eliminating the IRS a bonus)

12) Free trade, as a source of cheap consumer goods, should be seen as a positive. It’s not. I don’t know how exactly to swing it but Free Trade is something that should be defended. Add to this Life, Gun Rights and other issues which are unpopular but we can’t afford to abandon. Protecting these issues will take meditations on how to frame them properly.

13) Common sense in infrastructure. The left loves spending, but they often spend unwisely. Infrastructure does have a positive effect on the economy (whether the effect is worth the costs I leave to professional economists) but democrats rarely spend money properly in this category. They love light rail, bike paths, busses and other silliness takes focus away from infrastructure the bulk of the population needs. Roads and bridges being obvious, spending money where it counts most and being utilitarian about it should be a focus.

14) Conservationism, not preservationism. The two differing philosophies towards the environment and natural resources are used interchangeably but they shouldn’t. Preservationists wish to rope off nature. Conservationists understand this will cause more problems than we realize and is an affront to our civilization. Winning the political war over the environment might mean checking the cynical conservative in all of us (you know, the one that set a tire fire to celebrate Earth Day).

15) Healthcare. It’s difficult to gauge this issue properly. When adjusted appropriately, the mortality rates and life expectancy numbers show America to have a good healthcare system. We spend a lot on it too, and it’s expensive. Some say healthcare is a free market failure. The whole issue is very messed up and it takes some depth and nuance to grok it completely. What needs to be understood and communicated to voters is nationalized or socialized healthcare simply leads to healthcare rationing. In fact, I fear attempts at interfering with healthcare. It’s possible the Romney plan, which forced people into either private coverage or public coverage might be the way to go. Anything to avoid nationalization.

16) Immigration. I think conservatives need to soften their stances on immigration. Securing the border is something people support and should be done. A guest worker plan seems rational to me. Deporting 12 million people doesn’t. Illegal immigrants already here should be forced to get on record (papers, red tape, green cards, etc) pay penalties, learn English and pay taxes. Deporting I don’t think will work but acclimation will. I don’t support citizenship rights for any illegal immigrant but I do think forgiveness of border crossing indiscretions and the attainment of legal status is something that will work for conservatives and everyone else. (Violent criminals, smugglers, knaves and rogues should be shipped out or jailed of course.)

17) Local governance when possible. The federal government is a bit out of control. I for one am sick of the constant battle over wealth redistribution amongst the states. Every state is trying to get as much of the federal pie as it can for itself. It’s disgusting. Let the states live within their means. Again, efficiency in government.

These are some stream of consciousness thoughts. The basic premise is there though, updating conservatism by framing important issues in a way which leads to some voter sympathy for the GOP in 2008 and beyond, something akin to the Contract with America.

*To be reviewed in this space coming soon with obligatory author interview

Conservative Canon; Ronald Reagan

Reagan worship sometimes goes too far amongst conservatives. However his contribution can’t be underestimated. He was The Conservative. He was president, he won elections, he communicated. Learning about him should be a very large part of any conservative’s studies. In fact, so large is he in the movement that I think he warrants his own category.

An American Life-Ronald Reagan (His second autobiography)[Where’s the Rest of Me, his first autobiography isn’t readily available so I don’t know if it’s worth recognizing]
Ronald Reagan-Dinesh D’Souza
When Character was King-Peggy Noonan
Dutch-Edmund Morris
Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation-Ronald Reagan (Under the “Life” Category)
Reagan: In His Own Hand

Also some necessary speeches:

1964 Goldwater Speech
1980 Presidential Debate
1984 Debate
Speech at Point Du Huc
Speech at the Wall
Farewell Address


The Goldwater Speech:


People rarely get to hear the entire speech so I felt today would be a fine day to post it.

Okay, like usual I’ll open the floor for debate and discussion. Additions welcome, specifically if there are any articles or speeches worth including that I have missed. The one big debate here should be “Dutch” as it is not an overly kind biography.

Random Link o’ the Day:


Great Books of the Western World

The ten year reading plan continues.

Lysistrata, Aristophanes

The beautiful Lysistrata, her husband away fighting the Peloponnesian War, decides to take action to force the end of the hostilities between the Greek states. Her action? Convince all the Grecian woman to stop all sexual activities with their husbands. Comedy ensues. It saddens me there are so few surviving plays from Aristophanes, Clouds and Lysistrata were joys. Sure, Lysistrata has been taken up by anti-war activists as their own but they often forget almost everyone is anti-war. Lysistrata was successful but she had fictional Grecians to deal with, not Islamic Fundamentalists. Full Text.

Books I&II, Plato’s Republic

The reading plan sometimes annoys me as I was really hoping to get into the meat of Plato’s Republic. Instead, I have to struggle through Book I, which is focused on undoing the arguments of justice from the Sophist Thrasymachus; then in Book II we begin the initial creation of Plato’s Republic but it’s just a taste rather than a substantial drink. The reader is left wanting, which I suppose might be the intention of the creators of the reading plan. To note, Plato (as Socrates) thinks the way to find out what a just person is is to find out how a just state operates. It’s a long way to go to answer the cynicism of a sophist and sadly the road is still ahead of me. Full Text.

Book I, Aristotle’s Ethics

Most important stuff happening here is Aristotle connecting happiness to virtue and that happiness was achieved by being virtuous. The end of life itself, it’s purpose, is reaching this state of happiness.

Book I, Aristotle’s Politics

Some parts of this book are disturbing to the modern reader, Aristotle believed some were born slaves and he certainly wouldn’t be loved by any modern feminist. Also, most economists wouldn’t appreciate Aristotle’s thoughts on the accumulation of coin (he thought it silly). But the book has a lot of charm as well. Aristotle decides the best place to start when discussing politics is to look at the running of a household. From there he moves into retail and trade, all with eventual goal of understanding government.

Lycurgus, Plutarch

(These are selections from Plutarch’s Lives.) Lycurgus is the legendary lawgiver of Sparta. This is the reason I started the reading program, I doubt I would have found a reason to ever dig into Plutarch’s biographies but the reading list forces me to the best of them. Lycurgus, whose historicity is challenged, became the leader of Sparta and made reforms which are credited with making Sparta the great warrior state it became. Among his reforms he seized all the land and divided it equally among the Spartan men, he created a fiat monetary system (moving away from gold and silver) and enforced strict rules regarding the raising of children (Sparta wasn’t a place for loving parents). A true militant collectivist, the state he created or is credited with creating would survive him by at least 400 years.

Numa Pompilius, Plutarch

Numa was one of the legendary ancient kings of Rome (one of seven). After Romulus, the Roman Kingdom was in danger of being torn apart by civil war between native Romans and the Sabines, a neighboring tribe. Numa was beloved by both groups and ascended to the thrown. His reign was a boring one of peace and prosperity. In order to avoid attacking neighboring peoples Numa encouraged agriculture. He changed the Calender (There used to be ten months, he added two and made the system a little more logical, September, October, November and December (sept=6, Octo=8, Nov=9, Deci=10) survive to this day as anachronisms of the previous system. Numa also was the chief priest of Rome, and he focused most of his energy on religious matters (He’s credited with creating the Vestal Virgins, among others). In fact, the extended descriptions of Numa’s religious reforms become rather tedious.

While no one can be sure about the true nature of the Kingdom of Rome, as records of that time were almost completely destroyed by the time Plutarch began his writings, there is archaeological evidence for the existence of these legendary kings. Tollus Hostilius, Numa’s successor, had a senate building named for him and the remains of the building are known to researchers. This suggests there is some fact behind the legend. If Numa did exist and was the King he is said to be, then the people of Rome were quite lucky to have such a leader.

Lycurgus and Numa compared, Plutarch

The weakest element of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives is the fact he feels the need to compare and contrast. Numa and Lycurgus were both lawgivers, both were said to be pious and responsible for great reforms. Plutarch gives praise and spends a lot of words pointing out the obvious, doesn’t he understand I just read the two biographies of the men he contrasts? Plutarch considers the men mostly similar and doesn’t see the gaping differences a modern libertarian would see. Lycurgus increased dramatically the role of the state in the lives of its citizens, to borrow a phrase he asked what the people could do for Sparta then forced them to do it, while Numa Pompilius allowed the people to live in peace and relatively free to pursue their own interests. Lycurgus turned Sparta into a military machine which soon dominated the region while Numa left his neighbors alone.

Plutarch, in a precursor to modern multiculturalism, doesn’t take sides and refuses to see either leader as being superior. He simply notes with implied shrug Numa’s peace ended with him while Sparta stayed great for centuries after Lycurgus. In the ancient world, results mattered much more than the means.

Conservative Canon, Author Discussion

Robert Nozick

Nozick was one of the great philosophers of the last century and his most important book, “Anarchy, State and Utopia” was one fo the two great works of analytic political philosophy in the last century, the other being John Rawls “Theory of Justice.”

Nozick was a Libertarian who didn’t like being connected with the right-wing. His work wasn’t anarchist, it focused on creating a system of government which interfered as little with people (i.e. the most possible freedom) as possible. His work was also specifically targeted at John Rawls, whose Theory was a statement of left-wing egalitarianism.

I would put for debate two works of Nozick for addition to the Canon, his Anarchy, Sate and Utopia and his essay “Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?”