The Real News of the Month

October 2004
Volume 11, Number 10

Editor: Joe Sobran
Publisher: Fran Griffin (Griffin Communications)
Managing Editor: Ronald N. Neff
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  -> The Welles Precedent
  -> Election Season Notes (plus electronic Exclusives)
  -> Tom Wolfe
  -> Two Conservatives
Nuggets (plus electronic Exclusives)
List of Columns Reprinted in This Issue


{{ Material dropped from features or changed solely for 
reasons of space appears in double curly brackets. 
Emphasis is indicated by the presence of "equals" signs 
around the emphasized words.}}

The Welles Precedent
(page 1)

     On his 23rd birthday, May 6, 1938, Orson Welles 
appeared on the cover of TIME, having already established 
himself as the Boy Wonder of the American theater: an 
actor, director, and producer. He combined a love of 
Shakespeare with the promotional gift of a P.T. Barnum, 
as witness his modern-dress staging of JULIUS CAESAR as 
an allegory of Fascism -- a critical and popular hit. 
Such gimmickry was typical of his art, as CITIZEN KANE 
would later show. {{ He also had an amazingly resonant 
voice for such a young man; if the Grand Canyon could 
talk, it would sound like Welles. }}

     But he achieved worldwide fame only in October of 
that year, with his Halloween radio adaptation of H.G. 
Wells's science-fiction novel THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, 
which set off a nationwide panic. According to Barbara 
Leaming's 1985 biography, ORSON WELLES, the weekly show 
had been getting poor ratings against the extremely 
popular competition of the ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and 
his dummy, Charlie McCarthy, when Welles got the 
inspiration for this "corny" drama.

     Many people tuned in late and, missing the opening 
explanation that it was only a story, believed they were 
hearing actual live news bulletins of a Martian invasion 
in New Jersey. Countless Americans rushed into the 
streets looking for the creatures the "reporter" on the 
scene described as "wriggling out of the shadow [of the 
spaceship] like a gray snake," with tentacles, "large as 
a bear and it glistens like wet leather.... The eyes are 
black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of 
V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that 
seem to quiver and pulsate." Many listeners called the 
police to report that they too had seen these terrible 

     Welles himself played an eminent astronomer who 
witnessed the incineration of several onlookers, 
including the "reporter," with a strange weapon. "Of 
their destructive instrument," he boomed, "I might 
venture some conjectural explanation. For want of a 
better term, I shall refer to the mysterious weapon as a 
heat-ray. It's all too evident that these creatures have 
scientific knowledge far in advance of our own."

     That did it. Much of America freaked out. It was 
hours later that the public was reassured that there had 
been no invasion from Mars. The next morning, everyone 
was laughing and Welles was on the front pages. {{ (One 
listener later sued him for $2000, blaming the broadcast 
for causing his recently cured stutter to return.) }}

     Leaming sees THE WAR OF THE WORLDS as a milestone of 
the media age. It was that, and it was more: an omen of 
American warrior politics. Welles, announcing to a 
credulous public that the Martians possessed, as it were, 
weapons of mass destruction, had found the panic button 
George W. Bush would later press to terrific effect.

     The broadcast also foreshadowed other panics. 
Franklin Roosevelt would soon scare Americans into 
believing that the possibility of a Japanese invasion -- 
a military absurdity -- was so imminent that 
Japanese-Americans should be herded into concentration 
camps. In 1960 John F. Kennedy would frighten voters with 
a nonexistent "missile gap."

     America hasn't altogether changed since the 
Halloween of 1938. {{ In Barnum's famous formula, 
"There's a sucker born every minute." }} But at least 
Welles corrected the impression he'd made; the Bush 
administration has never retracted its preposterous 
warning that Saddam Hussein's "smoking gun" might be "a 
mushroom cloud."

(page 2)

     As the 2004 election campaign headed into its final 
weeks, President Bush enjoyed a solid lead, and the 
pundits were preoccupied with John Kerry's failure to 
capitalize on Bush's vulnerabilities. I fail to see the 
mystery. Another dull Massachusetts liberal, with no 
personal charm, magnetism, or symbolism, who entered the 
race as a has-been? Whose every misstep -- and there have 
been plenty -- has been swiftly played for advantage, and 
laughs, by the Republicans? Who signaled his desperation 
by shaking up his inner circle late in the race? Kerry is 
as befuddled as a color-blind chameleon, or a marionette 
trying to work its own strings.

*          *          *

     The best argument conservatives have made for 
supporting George W. Bush this year is that he is likely 
to appoint better -- well, less egregious -- Federal 
justices than John Kerry. At least these conservatives 
are keeping their eyes on the ball: in the long run, the 
courts decide how much power the Federal Government shall 
have. But given Bush's own sorry record of contempt for 
constitutional limits, the argument is odd. As our reader 
Mr. Paul Kirchner puts it, "We are reduced to hoping Bush 
will appoint justices conservative enough to strike down 
laws he supports."

*          *          *

     Kerry has most conspicuously failed to capitalize on 
Bush's misconceived war on terrorism. He can't get a 
handle on it, partly because he still more or less 
supports the Iraq war. Three years ago all attention was 
on Osama bin Laden; not knowing what to do about him, and 
preferring the neocons' war on Iraq, Bush picked Saddam 
Hussein as a proxy enemy, which didn't solve the problem 
but only aggravated it. It's understandable that Bush 
should want to avoid all mention of bin Laden; but why -- 
at least until the first "debate" -- has Kerry been 
letting him drop Osama down the Memory Hole?

*          *          *

     The neocons have coined a clumsy neologism for the 
supposed enemy: "Islamo-fascism." They also describe this 
weird hybrid as "totalitarian." Apparently they've 
forgotten the distinction between authoritarian and 
totalitarian rulers. The former (Franco, Chiang) tolerate 
no political opposition, but don't aspire to 
revolutionize whole cultures; the latter (Lenin, Mao, 
Castro) claim authority over religion, art, education, 
even family life -- and are, of course, far bloodier. No 
Muslim regime can claim authority over Allah or the right 
to change his law. The neocons are merely indulging in 
some fancy but incoherent name-calling.

*          *          *

     The McCain-Feingold restrictions on free speech have 
of course generated a new strategy, the so-called 527 
attack ads, typified by the Swift Boat Veterans for 
Truth. The Duopoly naturally finds these outrageous -- 
"slime" and "mud" produced by "shadowy" and 
"unaccountable" groups who "evade" the law through a 
"loophole" and shouldn't be "allowed." In other words, 
free speech. Further steps must be taken. Actually, the 
attacks on Bush and Kerry don't approach the scurrility 
of the attacks on Thomas Jefferson in 1800. As the target 
of unregulated libel, Jefferson thought the solution to 
free speech was free speech. How quaint.

*          *          *

     And what "loophole" was it that "allowed" Dan Rather 
to broadcast a story about Bush's National Guard service 
based on forged documents?

Exclusive to electronic media:

     When the Novus Ordo Mass was introduced in the wake 
of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic laity were 
invited to judge its success. Michael Davies respectfully 
accepted the invitation. In a series of learned and lucid 
books and pamphlets, notably his trilogy LITURGICAL 
REVOLUTION, he argued that "Pope Paul's new Mass" was not 
only a failure but a disaster for the entire Church. Mass 
attendance had plunged, the sacraments were being abused, 
Catholic teaching had been obscured. The beauty and 
dignity of the Tridentine rite, which Davies eloquently 
loved, had been abandoned to no purpose. Now we must 
mourn this heroic scholar, whom a heart attack has 
claimed at 69.

Tom Wolfe
(pages 3-4)

     Tom Wolfe has a good claim to be both the most 
original journalist and the funniest satirist of our 
time. He acquired the title of founding father of the New 
Journalism nearly forty years ago, when, barely 30 years 
old, he created a new style of reportage, flamboyantly 
adopting techniques of the novel in his magazine pieces 
-- dramatic narrative, interior monologue, realistic 
dialogue, shifting viewpoints, and so forth. He 
completely abandoned the detached objective pose of 
traditional reporting.

     What's more, you could recognize a Wolfe piece by 
its punctuation alone. Ellipses, exclamation marks, 
italics, interjections ("=Mmmmmmmm="), multiple 
consecutive colons, capital letters ("YOU ARE HERESY 
EMPOWERED::::::::::"): The page seemed to howl at you. He 
was capturing the life of our time in a whole new way, 
openly relishing the hilarity of it all. Nor was he 
self-effacing, as good journalists were taught to be. His 
own personality was part of his style, and his dress -- 
especially his famous white suits -- was as colorful as 
his prose. Actually, to call it colorful hardly does it 
justice; it was often described as "neon."

     It was all an act, of sorts. In person, he was a 
soft-spoken Virginian, smiling wrily at the foibles he 
observed. He made fun of his subjects and sympathized 
with them at the same time: race car drivers, 
intellectuals, fighter pilots, artists, ad men, 
strippers, surfers, bohemians, astronauts, even other 
journalists (including lowlife gossip publishers). He 
explored their little worlds, taking, as far as possible, 
their point of view.

     He even had a theory to explain his mission. The New 
Journalism, he announced, was doing the social 
observation the novel had once done but had ceased to do. 
His literary heroes were the great realistic novelists: 
Defoe, Dickens, Thackeray, Balzac, Zola -- writers who 
not only told stories, but actually =reported= on the 
social systems of their times. Why, they'd actually done 
=research= before creating their ambitious fictions of 
status competition!

     Contemporary novelists scorned such social curiosity 
as old-fashioned. To Wolfe this seemed a dereliction of 
duty, and the New Journalism was using the methods of 
fiction to do the job the novelists were no longer doing.

     Status was the key to it all. In Wolfe's view, the 
drive for status was a basic human motive, and post-World 
War II America was abounding in spontaneous new status 
systems -- self-enclosed hierarchies, really -- that 
demanded attention. He intended to give it to them. From 
his brilliantly slangy style, no one would guess his 
seriousness, let alone suspect he'd taken a Ph.D. in 
American studies at Yale. He was mistaken, at first, for 
a clever fop. His flamboyance was a disguise. Making 
himself conspicuous, superficially observable, disarmed 
any suspicion that =he= was doing the observing. Thinking 
he was a mere oddball, his subjects opened up to him.

     In the new America, Wolfe saw fashion and 
consumption as eloquent indices of status and its 
pursuit. What metaphors are to Shakespeare, brand names 
were to Wolfe. His pages were dizzyingly studded with 
names of products used by his subjects. It was his 
particular form of erudition.

     On top of all this, Wolfe was a marvelously witty 
phrase-maker. He gave the language "the Me Decade," "the 
Right Stuff," and of course "Radical Chic." The latter 
was the title of a famous 1970 article, later a small 
book, that first appeared in NEW YORK MAGAZINE, hitting 
the city, as a friend of mine recalled (I wasn't there at 
the time), with the force of a nuclear weapon. Overnight, 
in the very Mecca of liberalism, Wolfe had achieved the 
astounding feat of making liberalism seem silly.

     How did he do it? As it happens, I once got the 
chance to ask him.

     The article was about Leonard and Felicia 
Bernstein's famous, or rather notorious, 1969 fundraising 
party for the Black Panthers, attended, in Bernstein's 
own posh Park Avenue apartment, by dozens of New York's 
most beautiful rich liberals. Wolfe was there too, 
watching the others make glorious fools of themselves; 
but nobody suspected the presence of an ironical 
observer, taking notes in shorthand. (Later the others 
accused him of smuggling in a tape recorder, thereby 
vouching for the accuracy of his account.)

     The party won instant notoriety long before Wolfe 
published RADICAL CHIC. This was the result of a 
society-page report in the NEW YORK TIMES, followed by a 
stern editorial scolding the Bernsteins for their 
frivolity. But it took Wolfe's long article to capture 
the full, resonant comedy of the event. It's a work of 
genius that has lost none of its hilarity, and remains 
the crowning moment of the New Journalism.

     I became friendly with Wolfe -- Tom, as I feel 
entitled to call him -- a decade later, and he invited me 
to spend a night and a day with him to observe the huge 
1981 nuclear-freeze rally in Central Park. Naturally I 
jumped at the chance to enjoy the company of my favorite 
living writer and maybe pry some secrets of his success 
from him.

     I wasn't disappointed. In fact I was happily 
surprised. Tom proved a kind host, an unassuming man, and 
just as fun-loving an observer as one would expect. He 
was also very well read in the history of the American 

     {{ We passed the hot day watching the hordes of Old 
and New Left protestors, Tom pointing out to me such 
veterans as the playwright Arthur Miller and recounting 
stories of leftist sects I'd never heard of. I wish I'd 
emulated him by taking notes. I also neglected to ask him 
what fabric his bright yellow suit was made of. }}

     As for his trade secrets, he was glad to share them. 
Later in the day I asked him how he'd come to write 

     He said he'd first heard the Bernsteins were giving 
their Panther party, as it came to be known, while 
"hanging around" the office of HARPER'S MAGAZINE. He 
noticed an invitation addressed to the reporter David 
Halberstam. He instantly sensed possibilities for a story 
pregnant with both comic and serious social import. He 
asked the editor, Lewis Lapham, if he might use the 
invitation, Halberstam being in Vietnam that season.

     Then, in keeping with the code of the New 
Journalism, he started doing his research. Lots of it. 
And here's where he showed his subtlety.

     He found that Felicia Bernstein, nee Cohn, came from 
a leftist family. Her father had been a high official in 
the U.S. Communist Party.

     Eureka! A red-hot datum if there ever was one!

     And Tom decided not to mention it. It never appears 

     Why not? Because Tom realized, as he explained to 
me, that it would destroy the tone he wanted. To expose 
the Bernsteins' roots in the Old Left would sound so -- 
well, Birchite, McCarthyite, that everything else he 
wanted to say would be upstaged, dismissed.

     Far more effective, he saw, would be to contrast the 
luxuries of the Bernsteins' Park Avenue lifestyle -- the 
hors d'oeuvres, the servants, the precious furniture 
(every brand name meticulously listed) with the funky 
thrilling menace of the Panthers (every ghetto obscenity 
meticulously recorded).

     Those hors d'oeuvres became famous: "Wonder what the 
Panthers eat here on the hors d'oeuvre trail? Do the 
Panthers like little Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in 
crushed nuts this way, and asparagus tips in mayonnaise 
dabs, and meatballs petites au Coq Hardi, all of which 
are at this very moment being offered to them on 
gadrooned silver platters by maids in black uniforms with 
hand-ironed white aprons ... The butler will bring them 
their drinks ... Deny it if you wish to, but such are the 
pensees metaphysiques that rush through one's head on 
these Radical Chic evenings just now in New York."

     Then there is Felicia, with her "rare burnished 
beauty" and "Mary Astor voice," shaking hands with a huge 
Panther, "the one with the black leather coat and the 
dark glasses and the absolutely unbelievable Afro, Fuzzy 
Wuzzy-scale, in fact." Oh, the "giddy counterpoint"! As 
for those servants, they are white -- and Wolfe includes 
an account of the Bernsteins' quest for =white= servants, 
since black ones ministering to black revolutionaries 
("Would you care for a drink, sir?") would be just =so= 
inappropriate for the occasion: "So the current wave of 
Radical Chic has touched off the most desperate search 
for white servants." Even now, I can't quote all this 
without laughing.

     Not only could nobody else on earth have topped 
this, nobody else could even have conceived it, catching 
every angle of irony and absurdity in the situation of 
slumming as a form of social climbing. What's more, part 
of the comedy is that these liberals are quite sincere! 
Wolfe doesn't take the obvious route of calling them 
hypocrites. He treats them with his trademark mocking 
sympathy, which is not without real sympathy. It's all 
part of Balzac's comedie humaine, isn't it? (Wolfe also 
knows that these French phrases sound funniest when 
couched amid English words.)

     What makes it so perfect is Wolfe's consummate 
sophistication. He knows the significance of every 
detail, but he is too canny to hit the Bernsteins with 
everything he has; in fact, he admires them in some ways. 
His prose, like the Bernsteins' Roquefort cheese morsels, 
achieves its effect by mixing flavors unexpectedly. He 
has no need to belittle his subjects; Lenny is a great 
musician, and a well-meaning man. But his stature only 
adds to the humor of the scene.

     Bernstein was so enraged by that humor that he would 
leave a room at the mere mention of RADICAL CHIC. Too 
bad, but understandable. He'd worked all his life to 
become one of the world's most famous conductors, only to 
become best known as the target of one of the greatest 
satires of the twentieth century.

Two Conservatives
(pages 5-6)

     Two of America's most prominent conservatives have 
just published new books that vividly illustrate the 
differences between them. William F. Buckley Jr. has 
written a sort of memoir, MILES GONE BY (Regnery), while 
Patrick J. Buchanan has produced another of his ardent 
Martin's Press).

     The Buckley book is 594 handsomely produced pages of 
rehash, including pieces he wrote as long ago as 1958, 
surveying, mostly in anecdotes, everything from his 
childhood through his career in journalism. There are 
lovely fragments, especially about his family and 
friends, but the book has little form or continuity, and 
anyone looking for fresh material about the conservative 
movement, or Buckley's role in it, will be disappointed. 
Very disappointed.

     To call these anecdotes twice-told tales would be a 
serious understatement. Buckley has written many of them 
several times (and told them, I can attest, many more 
times). Readers who have never encountered them before 
will find them charming, but may be puzzled about how 
Buckley ever achieved his former stature as a public 

     Among the pieces reprinted here is a long 
introduction to the 1977 edition of his first book, GOD 
AND MAN AT YALE, first published in 1952. It's hard to 
recall the furor this book caused at its appearance: its 
thesis that Yale taught atheism and socialism to the sons 
of God-fearing, capitalist alumni hardly seems 
controversial today. But it's worth being reminded that 
liberals, then as now, were disingenuously outraged when 
their doings were exposed to the public; Buckley was 
roundly cursed in respectable liberal journals for saying 
the obvious -- indeed, the undeniable. "Fascist" was one 
of the epithets most frequently hurled at him. The 
reaction his first book stirred is more interesting than 
the book itself, as is this introduction.

     Approaching 80, Buckley says little about his 
subsequent career; he seems to remember his first big 
uproar far more vividly than any of the subsequent ones. 
In fact the rest of them hardly show up at all, except 
for a brief reference to his 1962 dustup with the John 
Birch Society, of which he remains inordinately proud. He 
got the better of the poor Birchers, partly because for 
once he had liberal opinion on his side. Enlisting 
liberal opinion against other conservatives was to become 
a standard Buckley strategy, as I would learn to my cost.

     In his later years Buckley's most interesting and 
significant flap sprang from his decision to cast his lot 
with a set of Jewish liberals, those who called 
themselves "neoconservatives." To this end, he abetted 
smears of other conservatives, notably Buchanan, as 
anti-Semites. He once told the WASHINGTON POST that the 
proudest achievement of his entire career had been 
purging the conservative movement of anti-Semitism!

     Oddly, he had gone most of that career without 
noticing, or mentioning, this problem. It didn't exist.

     What did exist, by 1990, was a sect of neocons who 
used the charge of anti-Semitism to smear honorable 
conservatives. In 1986, for example, Midge Decter accused 
Russell Kirk, the most venerable conservative in the 
movement, of anti-Semitism. (He'd made the Hitlerian quip 
that many of the neoconservatives seemed to think Tel 
Aviv was the center of Western civilization.)

     Decter's libel was the biggest news in conservative 
circles that season, but Buckley and NATIONAL REVIEW not 
only failed to defend Kirk, who had been a regular 
contributor to the magazine since its founding; they 
failed even to report the incident to their readers. 
Decter was actually welcome thereafter in the magazine's 
pages; Kirk died in total disgust with Buckley.

     In 1991 Buckley made his biggest splash ever by 
insinuating that Buchanan was anti-Semitic (while 
carefully adding that he "probably" was not). This won 
him the applause he craved -- from liberals. He was 
praised, for the first time in his life, in a lead 
editorial of the NEW YORK TIMES. Verily, he had his 

     Since Buckley called this shameful episode his 
proudest achievement, it's curious that he makes no 
mention of it, or of anti-Semitism, in MILES GONE BY. 
Buchanan appears briefly, but only as "the talented 
author, columnist, and polemicist" in a long chapter 
devoted to a televised debate on the Panama Canal 
treaties (speaking of forgotten issues).

     What's most notable about this book is its pervasive 
vanity. This leads Buckley to dwell on little things he 
is proud of and to forget bigger things he is, well, less 
proud of. I remember his glee at anticipating the storm 
his attack on Buchanan would cause among conservatives; 
but I suspect that when it actually came, he was ashamed 
of the pain he'd caused and shaken by the anger he'd 
provoked. This book consigns such moments to oblivion. 
It's all about the author's nice, self-flattering 
memories of a long life.

     Buchanan's new book, on the other hand, isn't about 
Buchanan. His mind, as ever, is in the real world, and 
he's not striking fine poses but trying to understand 
events. Buckley appears briefly in his book too, and it's 
only to make a brief observation: that Buckley's magazine 
has called a dozen conservatives, many of whom used to 
write for it, traitors and America-haters for opposing 
the Iraq war (which Buckley himself now calls a 

     What has happened to the conservative movement? The 
subtitle tells the story: The neocons have "hijacked" it. 
Using conservative and patriotic rhetoric, they have 
pushed for a war that actually serves the interests of 
the state of Israel rather than America. In fact this war 
is contrary to American interests, and they want to 
expand it into "World War IV" -- an endless campaign to 
destroy all of Israel's enemies.

     Buchanan reviews their machinations and imprudent 
self-revelations with damning thoroughness, leaving them 
nowhere to hide and no doubt about their motives. These 
bogus patriots have put their Likud ties on the record so 
amply that any denial of their alien loyalties is 
incredible. And Buchanan has been carefully keeping 

     But he doesn't stop there. The book is far more 
wide-ranging than its title suggests. Buchanan sees 
trouble ahead. One chapter sums up Islam's long and 
troubled relations with the Christian West, but argues 
that this need not doom us to war now. In an especially 
trenchant chapter on China, he argues that George W. 
Bush's imperial foreign policy can only look menacing to 
the Chinese rulers, who, old as they are, are looking to 
the future far more than American politicians do. In fact 
there is good reason for the world to fear the United 
States as long as the U.S. Government assumes the right 
of global hegemony. Buchanan contrasts Bush with Ronald 
Reagan, who condemned Communism morally but cautiously 
avoided armed conflict with the Soviets and China. These 
chapters display, in their brisk and decisive prose, real 
historical wisdom.

     Buchanan's most alarming forecast has little to do 
with war or foreign policy; the worst dangers to the 
United States are internal. Under Bush, the welfare state 
has become "unsustainable," with a monstrous expansion of 
Medicare that will add trillions to Federal spending and 
debt. Bush's abandonment of conservative and 
constitutional tradition almost certainly means we are 
headed for a disaster, maybe gradual, that will dwarf the 
foreign evils he claims to be protecting us from.

     In recent years Buchanan has made almost a second 
career as an apostle of economic nationalism and an enemy 
of free trade, which he calls "the serial killer of 
American manufacturing and the Trojan Horse of world 
government." His chapter on "Economic Treason" makes a 
powerful case for his position, but I don't find it 
entirely convincing.

     The key term is "nationalism." Buchanan is a 
disciple of Alexander Hamilton, "master architect of the 
United States," which puts him in the strange company of 
the neocons, who favor centralized government. He says a 
Hamiltonian policy of using tariffs against foreign 
competition, while maintaining free trade among the 
United States, was designed to keep us out of European 
wars. Maybe so, though there is room for argument as to 
whether that policy worked; and in any case, Buchanan 
acknowledges that tariffs, by punishing the Southern 
states worse than any foreign power, led to the worst war 
in our history, our own civil war, in which more 
Americans died than in all other wars combined.

     Buchanan sees Lincoln and McKinley, two warrior 
presidents, as "conservatives." He apparently rejects the 
Jeffersonian view of most presidents before Lincoln that 
the integrity of the =Federal= union depended on the 
sovereignty of the "free and independent states," which 
included the ultimate right to withdraw. Since Buchanan 
has sometimes avowed his sympathy for the Confederacy, 
all this is hard to understand. The Northern victory over 
the South has made possible nearly all the 
unconstitutional usurpations of power -- from the New 
Deal to Roe v. Wade -- that conservatives deplore.

     Hamilton's nationalism, adopted from the start by 
the Republican Party, has led to tyranny. In fact, he 
proposed to the Constitutional Convention, where he was 
easily the most radical delegate, that the state 
governments be effectively abolished! This is why his 
liberal and neocon admirers, much as he might detest 
them, still celebrate him. Lincoln's admirers likewise 
praise Lincoln as a revolutionary; and it's hardly 
questionable that he radically changed the nature of the 
Union he said he was merely "preserving."

     Despite this grave flaw, WHERE THE RIGHT WENT WRONG 
is an invigorating summary, detailed yet farsighted, of 
the conservative case against Bush and the other 
"conservative impersonators" who have encouraged him in 
his calamitous course. Buchanan hopes the Republican 
Party can still be recalled to the principles of 
Coolidge, the elder Robert Taft, Goldwater, and Reagan; 
but on his own showing the prospects for such a 
renaissance are bleak, verging on black.


THEN AND NOW: In his book GIVE ME A BREAK, the newsman 
John Stossel notes that in 1789, the Federal Government 
"cost every citizen $20 (in today's money) per year. 
Taxes rose during wars, but for most of the life of 
America, spending never exceeded a few hundred dollars 
per person. During World War II, government got much 
bigger. It was supposed to shrink again after the war but 
never did. Instead, it just kept growing. Now the Federal 
Government costs every man, woman, and child an average 
of $10,000 per year." (page 8)

I DARE YOU TO LOOK: On page 131 of Stossel's book you'll 
find a chart of Federal spending that is, at a mere 
glance, terrifying. It looks like an L lying on its back. 
(page 10)

Exclusive to electronic media:

that in 1789, and long afterward, Americans didn't use 
the expression "in today's money." A dollar wasn't a 
piece of paper; it was a fixed amount of silver. Maybe, 
in the interest of honesty, our unit of currency should 
be renamed the neodollar.

ASK ANY KID: British psychologists report that even the 
youngest infants can distinguish pretty faces from ugly 
ones. What a comment on modernist aesthetics, which 
disdains our simple, natural tastes and indeed the very 
idea of beauty. Beauty is =real,= not "subjective" or 
"conventional." The news should rock the art world. 
Somewhere, Titian and Raphael are smiling.

BUT OF COURSE: The neocons are blaming the latest FBI 
investigation of possible Israeli spying against the 
United States on, yes, "anti-Semitism." Maybe it should 
be blamed on the neocons' demands for tightened national 

(pages 7-12)

* The Threat of Religion (August 17, 2004)

* The New Rules of the Game (August 26, 2004)

* Reliable Ally Strikes Again (August 31, 2004)

* "Government at Its Best"? (September 2, 2004)

* The Kerry Ferry (September 7, 2004)

* The Real Issue (September 9, 2004)


All articles are written by Joe Sobran

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