The Real News of the Month

February 2006
Volume 13, Number 2

Editor: Joe Sobran
Publisher: Fran Griffin (Griffin Communications)
Managing Editor: Ronald N. Neff
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  -> President Katrina
  -> Year of the Geezer
"Reactionary Utopian" Columns Reprinted in This Issue


President Katrina
(page 1)

     During the fuss about the Bush administration's 
warrantless wiretaps, liberal critics were on the verge 
of making a few good points, but they missed the biggest 
point of all: George W. Bush is the fruit of their own 

     David Ignatius of the WASHINGTON POST quite properly 
noted that Bush and Dick Cheney make the dubious claim 
that the president's constitutional wartime authority 
"trumps everything," even acts of Congress specifically 
forbidding, say, warrantless wiretaps. Sound familiar? 
Where have we heard this before?

     Yes, of course! Abraham Lincoln felt entitled to 
claim any powers he deemed necessary to perform his 
transcendent duty to "save the Union." True, the 
Constitution didn't spell these out, but as Harry V. 
Jaffa has written, Lincoln "discovered" a whole 
"reservoir" of wartime powers implicit in Article II. Why 
shouldn't Bush imitate the great example of Lincoln, one 
of liberalism's gods?

     And after all, liberalism adores "great" presidents, 
those who, like Lincoln and the Roosevelts, take a 
"creative" and "expansive" view of executive power, not 
necessarily going by the book. This dovetails nicely with 
the liberal view of the Constitution as a "living 
document" whose meanings evolve over time, adapting to 
new circumstances.

     This is a game any number can play. Today liberals 
are, by their lights, understandably upset with what Bush 
is doing, and I'm not happy about it myself. But Bush and 
his men are merely doing what liberals have always done, 
finding new implications -- penumbras and emanations and 
so forth -- in the Living Document. And they have so many 
precedents on their side. This is just the Republican 
version of what the Democrats have been doing since 
Woodrow Wilson. (And Republicans had been doing it long 
before that.)

     I can't get hysterical about the remote possibility 
that my own phone may be wiretapped. The real danger is 
more general than that; and even to call it a "danger" is 
wrong, because it's a certainty, and it's already 
happening. All limits on Federal power are going the way 
of the New Orleans levees.

     I must admit that the colossal and explosive growth 
of the Federal Government under Bush has surprised me. 
But I can't deny its logic, given the legacy of 
liberalism. What surprises me more painfully is that Bush 
has done all this with so little protest or resistance 
from conservatives who should know better.

     However it happened, it has happened. The Federal 
budget first reached a trillion dollars under Ronald 
Reagan; Bush has now proposed one of $2.77 trillion. And 
it's safe to assume even that figure understates the 
amount that will actually be spent.

     "The era of big government is over," Bill Clinton 
assured us, lying as usual. What we didn't suspect was 
that Clinton was just the calm before the real storm, to 
wit, the political Hurricane Katrina that is the Bush 
administration. Who ever dreamed that a president calling 
himself a conservative would end any illusion that 
government could be limited?

Year of the Geezer
(page 2)

     Like many others of my generation, I turned 60 in 
2006. This is the year the Baby Boom becomes a Geezer 
Boom. We ourselves, however, having lived by the credo 
"Make love, not babies," find the next generation in 
short supply. And since the Federal Government has 
promised to take care of us -- with the compassionate 
President Bush adding generous new Medicare benefits -- 
hoo boy.

*          *          *

     Even if Denmark were to ban all cartoons, Europe 
would still face cultural tensions with its new 
immigrants. In Italy, for example, Muslims are demanding 
the removal of statues of Dante Alighieri, who wasn't 
thinking of Islamic sensitivities when he placed the 
Prophet in hell, suffering an especially revolting 
punishment (Canto 28). The new arrivals are certainly 
making themselves at home, aren't they? Well, nature 
abhors a vacuum, which is just what Europe has become.

*          *          *

     Francis Fukuyama, best known for his somewhat 
premature announcement of "the end of history," has 
detached himself from the neoconservatives who once 
embraced his thesis. Acknowledging that the Iraq war was 
a boo-boo, he observes that "the neoconservative moment 
appears to have passed," chiefly as a result of that war. 
He barely touches on the Zionism and ethnocentrism of the 
neocons, but he notes that their ideas have been 
thoroughly tested and found wanting.

*          *          *

     Victor Davis Hanson is among the few writers still 
defending this war in columns and articles. He's become a 
rather comical figure. Billed as "a classicist and 
historian," he has written a book about the Peloponnesian 
War, but everything I've read of his has harped 
monotonously on a single Lesson of History: that 
"appeasement" led to World War II. Just like the 
Democrats today, don't you see. Islamofascism, and all 
that. What a threadbare imagination.

*          *          *

     Which reminds me: I recently took another look at 
REDS, Warren Beatty's 1980 epic of John Reed's romance 
with the early Soviet Union. Despite some hints that 
Communism might turn out to be a flawed system, the film 
tries to enchant us with the glow of Reed's generation's 
youthful idealism. It's one of those smug historical 
movies in which the "progressives" get all the good 
lines, the "reactionaries" are obtuse, and the past 
becomes the butt of the present.

*          *          *

     Isn't it time to admit that "idealism" usually means 
political fantasy, the use of evil means to attempt 
impossible ends? Alleged lofty intentions can't excuse 
what was done to countless millions of victims of those 
false ideals.

*          *          *

     Dick Cheney has become the first sitting vice 
president in two centuries to shoot someone. The only 
other one to do so was Aaron Burr, who saved the country 
from Alexander Hamilton. But of course in those days a 
politician could still whack somebody without fear of 
what the late-night comedians might say.



GOING WOBBLY: My old boss Bill Buckley has finally jumped 
ship, calling the Iraq war an American "defeat." This 
will make things a bit sticky for the young hawks he has 
left in charge of NATIONAL REVIEW. It's as if Churchill, 
in 1942, had declared, "Well, we must try to see how 
things appear from Hitler's point of view." (page 4)

WHY THEY FOUGHT: Maybe we should think of the attack on 
Pearl Harbor as a preemptive strike. How deeply indebted 
to the Japanese the world might be if they'd succeeded in 
preventing Franklin Roosevelt, that lump of foul 
deformity, from developing weapons of mass destruction! 
(page 5)

SINISTER ANALOGY: What do the USSR under Stalin and the 
United States under Jimmy Carter have in common? Both 
countries were headed by men with Georgian accents. 
(page 6)

LESSONS OF (WRITING) HISTORY: In Austria, Convicted 
Holocaust Denier (and, it appears, =Former= Historian) 
David Irving began his three-year prison term in solitary 
confinement. Arguing that the convict is "unrepentant," 
the prosecutor -- yes, that's right, the =prosecutor= -- 
has appealed the sentence, demanding that it be extended 
to the maximum ten years. Watch it, Irving. The next 
thought you think may be your last. (page 7)

COME TO THINK OF IT: Roosevelt started the Manhattan 
Project at the urging of a famous physicist. The guy's 
name is associated with the theory of relativity, but we 
can also thank him for the nuclear age. Very brainy. A 
regular Einstein. (page 8)

NOBODY HERE BUT US MAMMALS: George Will has made a snide 
comment on the "reptile brain" of David Irving. Watch it 
there, George. Not only is that a low blow, it invites 
speculation on just which phylum you belong to. (page 9)

CONSPIRACY THEORY: Don Knotts, best known as Barney Fife, 
has died at 81. He was among the last of a vanishing 
breed: the hilarious white Protestant. Comedy today is so 
heavily dominated by hilarious Jews that I suspect a 
Mossad operation. (page 10)

PUT IT BACK ON: "Wispy" is the way one gossip column has 
described movie sensation Keira Knightley; and as if to 
underline the point, she has displayed her scrawny frame, 
stark naked, on the cover of VANITY FAIR. I don't wish to 
be ungallant, admiring her beauty and talent as I do, but 
most of us look more silly than sexy with our clothes 
off, and that includes Keira. (page 11)

LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP: Lewis Lapham, editor of HARPER'S, 
has called for the impeachment of George W. Bush. The 
idea has undeniable merit and a strong superficial 
appeal, but do we really want to risk making a martyr of 
the guy? (page 12)

REPRINTED COLUMNS ("The Reactionary Utopian")
(pages 3-12)

* The Case against Football (January 10, 2006)

* The Heyday of Kennedyism (January 12, 2006)

* How to Handle a Woman (January 17, 2006)

* Lincoln's Party (January 19, 2006)

* Only Mozart (January 26, 2006)

* Penumbras, Emanations, and Stuff (February 02, 2006)

* Liberal in Chief (February 7, 2006)

* Fake Pollocks? (February 9, 2006)

* Cheney and Chappaquiddick (February 14, 2006)

* Playing for Laughs (February 16, 2006)


All articles are written by Joe Sobran.

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