wJeremiads
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

You've stumbled upon the website of Jeremy Lott. (To learn more about me, go here.) I can be reached at JEREMYAL123 -- AT -- YAHOO.COM.


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wSaturday, March 30, 2002


ANDREW AND ME: Enter Stage Right's Barton Wong (no fixed links but scroll down until you come to the heading "BUT JUST IN CASE YOU EITHER DON'T HAVE A FAMILY, OR ELSE, DON'T LIKE THEM") writes of my recent output:

"With his commonsensical, yet no nonsense and even-handed attacks on prominent figures both left and right, his ability to [be] published on websites both liberal and conservative, and his dislike of pretension, I would say that the young Jeremy Lott (he is still in Bible college!) is turning into the, um, Andrew Sullivan of his generation."

Now that is just not a fair comparison! I mean, sure, Andrew and yours truly share a few tiny things in common: we're published in both conservative and liberal outlets; we're pro-Israel; we want a smaller, cheaper, less punitive government; we have our feet in the politics of two countries (America and the UK; America and Canada); we're sort of Catholic; we don't mind rushing sacred cows with daggers drawn; and we're both… really, really happy. Is that, I ask you, any reason to label me the Andrew Sullivan of the next generation?

posted by Jeremy at 5:53 PM


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HOW LONG?: Especially at this time of year, it fills me with overwhelming sadness to report yet another suicide bombing in Israel. As of yet, we don't know if there were any casualties other than the bomber. I pray that there aren't.

Meanwhile, the Israelis have stopped just short of capturing Arafat. From my perspective, that's an intolerably bad idea. The man, who has single handedly sabotaged regional peace in the past, should be captured and jailed or exiled.

The U.S., I might add, should have stayed the hell out of this conflict, other than to condemn terrorism in the most bacing of terms. Instead, we appear to be siding with Arafat. No, I am not making that up.

The Administration's votes on the U.N. Security Council have shifted into an anti-Israel, pro Palestinian statehood mode at a time when both will serve as further encouragement to suicide bombers, who, after all, are blowing themselves up to advance the twin causes of Palestinian statehood and Jewish destruction. If every bomb brings them closer to those objectives, then what is the incentive to stop? They've already proved that they don't hold their own lives dear.

A visibly rattled John Paul II has been praying for peace in Israel, and well he should. "Blessed are the peacemakers," said Christ in his most famous sermon, "for they will be called sons of God." But what needs to be understood is that Arafat and company are not now, and are not ever likely to become, peacemakers.

None of this is to discount the legitimate suffering of some Palestinians. Many of them - and some of "them" are my co-religionists - are not in on this recent monstrous evil. They are, rather, innocents caught in the middle of a war that they didn’t start and don’t want. Then again, there are an awful lot of rock hurdlers among the Palestinians; and there were mass celebrations when the World Trade Centers and Pentagon got nailed, so sympathy… doesn’t flow forth as freely as it might.

Any solution to the current problem is going to have to include the removal of Arafat from leadership and some kind of a permanent, inflexible partition. Jacob and Esau will have to bury the past and go their own separate ways.

posted by Jeremy at 5:27 PM


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THE QUEEN MUM: Is dead. Requiescat in pace.

posted by Jeremy at 4:11 PM


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BETTER: WorldNetDaily today links to my piece on Andrew Sullivan under the "Faith Under Fire" banner. No more of that "Out of Left Field" business, thank you.

posted by Jeremy at 4:06 PM


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LETTER: That said, in response to that Christianity Today review of two wacky Christian novels, a reader from Trinity Western University writes:

"You closed your CT novel review with, 'My primary concern is that some readers will take the ideas expressed in Nephilim as seriously as the author appears to take them. That would be a waste of a good novel.'

"You don't realize how right you are. Nephilim author Lynn Marzulli literally does believe the ideas in his novel. You can go to his website and find out for yourself. I corresponded with him for a little while but he just wouldn't see reason. He actually believes the Nephilim were demonically designed aliens, that they're coming back, and that the world needs to be warned about it. Sheesh."

I thought that Marzulli took it all a bit seriously but, until visiting his website, I had no idea. My review must have left him spitting nails.

posted by Jeremy at 3:53 PM


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I'VE GOT MAIL, GROAN: Unlike some writers, I do not... love to receive letters from readers. The “nuke Mecca” incident, with about 1,000 angry Muslim e-mails, highlighted this fact in the starkest possible terms.

Don't misunderstand: It's great to hear from you people, but there is often the expectation that I will 1) answer questions; 2) defend theses; or 3) engage in running correspondence. I occasionally get around to the first, the second is almost always a waste of time and I rarely have any interest in the third. Plus, I’m not… always the most polite respondent.

So please don’t take no response as an insult. Think, rather, that I cared enough not to swear at you. And if you really, really need an answer to a burning question… keep bugging me.


posted by Jeremy at 3:35 PM


wFriday, March 29, 2002


GOD IS DEAD: As tempting as it is to keep posting about taxes and e-Luddites and other such things, this is Good Friday, a holiday rivaled for sheer cosmic sadness only by Yom Kippur. I'd try to write something eloquent about it but the words aren't in me.

posted by Jeremy at 6:33 PM


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AND THEN SOMETHING SNAPPED: Julie Frizzo, the editor of Trinity Western's school newspaper, Mars' Hill, finally did it. Every single editorial this year has consisted of navel gazing mush, but the most recent one, about her trip to the graduation banquet, was... well, it should have begun "dear diary." So I cut it out, circled all the times the words "I" or "me" or "my" or "mine" occurred, photocopied it on a piece of paper with the heading "the problem with Mars' Hill" and distributed a couple dozen copies at various waterholes on campus. The point isn't that she uses the word "I" more than most valley girls use "like," but that she is incessantly and rigidly incapable of focussing on anything other than herself.

posted by Jeremy at 1:20 PM


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BUSH LEAGUE SQUARED: Quite a few people had to cast their ballots for Bush last time with clothespin firmly attached. I was one such voter (hey, it beat the hell out of moving to Canada) but our prez's recent actions have roused that ancient cynic battle cry, "Why bother?"

First, it was the absurd protections on foreign steel and then on foreign timber to combat those wily Canadians - inviting the rejoinder "free trade through protectionism is like virginity through... oh you figure it out." Then he started saying very stupid things about the situation in Israel. Now Bush has signed a self-admittedly "far from perfect" campaign finance reform bill into law.

How "far from perfect" was it? I'll leave the minute dissection to policy wonks (unless somebody out there wants to employ my scalpel) and rely on Bush's speechwriter's words, with accompanying highlights of things that should stand out. "Certain provisions," he wrote

"present serious constitutional concerns. In particular, H.R. 2356 goes farther than I originally proposed by preventing all individuals, not just unions and corporations, from making donations to political parties in connection with federal elections. I believe individual freedom to participate in elections should be expanded, not diminished; and when individual freedoms are restricted, questions arise under the First Amendment.

"I also have reservations about the constitutionality of the broad ban on issue advertising, which restrains the speech of a wide variety of groups on issues of public import in the months closest to an election. I expect that the courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions as appropriate under the law."

I suppose it's understandable that Bush trusts the supremes to do the right thing on campaign finance. After all, they put him in office by stopping the rigged vote count, so how bad could they bungle it? Oh, plenty bad, believe you me.

The thing that is so sickening about this whole thing is that Bush didn't have to sign the bill. McCain admitted that he didn't have the votes to override the president's "no." One of the best things that Bush 1 did was veto boatloads of bad bills. That was a mark of valor, not one of those "mistakes" that Dubya was supposed to learn from. The day of the signing, Drudge headlined the story "Bush signs campaign finance, NRA sues." Substitute "Gore" for "Bush" and then ask yourself, if the courts had swung the other way, how would that headline have been any different?

posted by Jeremy at 12:59 PM


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CLAY CRUSADER: I'm normally against this mutual blog back scratching, but do have a look at Enter Stage Right's number. Commenting on my new column on Andrew Sullivan, Barton Wong includes the following parenthetical remark:

"[F]irst Frum, then Lowry, and now Sullivan? Is Mr. Lott going to be hitting William F. Buckley, Jr. next, in his crusade to reveal how right-wing columnists have feet of clay?"

posted by Jeremy at 12:15 PM


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LEFT FIELD?!: WorldNetDaily today links to my article on Bill O'Reilly under the "Out of Left Field" banner. Now, given, it's published on The American Prospect, but how does that make it "left wing"? I'm guessing that this is payback for the time that I called WND a conservative website.

posted by Jeremy at 11:40 AM


wThursday, March 28, 2002


GREAT EVENING: The '91 Pontiac Sunbird topped 200,000 miles and the lovely, brilliant lady who was along to view this auspicious occasion stuck around for dinner with yours truly. On the way back from the restaurant, I inquired her opinion of if there is such a thing as a distinctly Canadian literature. Response: “There is, but only when they write about landscapes.” We both got a laugh out of that.

posted by Jeremy at 1:54 AM


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TWO ARTICLES: From TAP and TAP. The American Prospect has my new piece on why Bill O'Reilly's new talk radio show is likely to flop and The American Prowler posted my article on Andrew Sullivan's very Protestant Catholicism.

posted by Jeremy at 1:46 AM


wWednesday, March 27, 2002


BAD BUSH, BAD!: Well after a stellar performance last year, the prez has gotten this year off to a lousy start. He has imposed tariffs on foreign steel and foreign lumber, thus jacking up the price of cars and housing for all of us peons out here. That may not, technically, count as a breach of his promise not to raise taxes but it has the same effect.

Bush has also interposed the U.S. into the Israel-Palestine peace conflict. That is not smart on a number of levels. First, it pisses off his own base - American conservatives, for the most part, are instinctively pro-Israel. Second, it puts a technical peace - in other words, a non-peace - ahead of an actual cessation of violence. Third, when the talks fail - and I'd bet a lot of money that they will fail -, Arafat and Sharon, for domestic purposes, may both have found their scapegoat.

Finally, my own bitter objection: campaign finance "reform." With approval ratings as high as George W. Bush's, you'd think he could afford to mount a principled stand on behalf of free speech - especially since his own party would benefit from it - and veto the sucker. But, rejoins the great Wallace Shawn, "Do my ears deceive me or did the word 'think' just escape from your lips?!?"

posted by Jeremy at 2:14 AM


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THAT'S NOT FUNNY! II: James Pinkerton thinks he has a catch-all solution to the pedophile priest crisis: Make castration a part of the vow of celibacy.

"[T]o be admirable," Pink explains, "celibacy must be sustainable. And yet if pansexuality is so rampant that even Catholic priests are led into temptation, then something has to change."

Unfortunately, Pink takes all the fun out of it by explaining that the method should be chemical castration, which is both reversible and painless. Origen must be rolling over in his grave.

posted by Jeremy at 1:52 AM


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THAT'S NOT FUNNY!: I haven't paid much attention to Carol Iannone in the past but this will change after her wonderful send up of liberal Catholic James Carroll in the current New York Press. Iannone read about Carroll's "alternative [Gospel] account, in which the Gospel narratives...are replaced by something more this-worldly and emptied of the supernatural" and thought "what a keen idea!" She decided to give it a whack herownself.

Like, for instance, that story about Jesus feeding the 5000 with a few loaves and fish. "My friends and I," says Iannone, "had a picnic one Fourth of July, and even those who were not expected to bring food had done so. As a result, we had a great abundance and we felt really blessed and happy, and had a lot left over, too. I am certain that something like this is what really happened that day in Galilee."

Other emptied events include "Jesus Turns the Water into Wine" (a waiter once did that gratis), "Jesus Walks on the Water" (Jesus Christ Pro Surfer) and "Jesus Takes Three of His Disciples Up to A Mountain and Is Transfigured Before Them, His Face Shining as the Sun and His Raiment as White as the Light" (a canny early knowledge of fabric detergents).

She concludes: "I am so grateful to James Carroll for helping me to see that Jesus did not bring anything into the world that I could not have experienced on my own. In fact, now I’m wondering why a gospel hasn’t been written about me and my life."

posted by Jeremy at 1:37 AM


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BUSY BUSY BUSY: Blogging has been sparse for the last week or so in part because of school and personal preoccupations. But another issue has been several pieces that I simply had to get done. Thanks to readers for not inundating me with complaints.

I've cut back slightly on the freelancing to accommodate papers and finals, but to give the reader some idea of what's been hanging over my head, here is a partial list of publications before which one or more articles are pending: The Stranger, Christianity Today, Reason, The American Prospect, The American Prowler, The Report, Books & Culture, Chronicles and Touchstone.

No rest for the self employed.

posted by Jeremy at 12:59 AM


wMonday, March 25, 2002


BLOGGER NOTES: Tried to post from school today and made a fascinating, irritating discovery: The version of Blogger that Netscape will load is lacking the buttons to insert the bold and italics and html tags. I could have cobbled them together myself, but I was in such a hurry that I decided to wait until I got home to post. As easy as Blogger is to work with, I think I know who we can blame this one on.

posted by Jeremy at 9:37 PM


wSaturday, March 23, 2002


PALESTINE GOES BOOM: Regarding this week's tragic events in Israel, one isn't sure whether to laugh or cry. Laughing might seem perverse, but, quoth Kurt Vonnegut, "Laughing or crying is what a human being does when there's nothing else he can do." For some reason, that bit of insight always sounded very Jewish to me...

Most of what I have to say on the subject has already been said in a previous article (which I urge you to read). But let me say for all my new Muslim readers that I think the locus of the blame rests squarely on what used to be the shoulders of the Palestinian suicide bombers. Israel has, all things considered, shown remarkable restraint. After September 11, when Palestinians cheered the blasts and Afarat had to forcibly put down some celebrants, had Ariel Sharon been of such a mind, he could have killed Arafat, flattened as many people as he wanted and driven the rest out of the land. The repercussions would have been minimal: The U.S. would have blocked any condemnation in the U.N. and any nation dumb enough to go to war with the Israelis over it would have had their own arses handed to them.

Sharon didn't push that button and I've wondered why ever since. There is the obvious fact that such a thing would have been, to use a recently popular word, evil, but rulers often do evil in order to promote what they take to be the common good. The reason for the restraint finally hit me as I was reading Elie Wiesel's Dawn, the great writer's account of the Israeli underground resistance to the Brits. Israel's collective memory recalls a time when they were engaging in some less-than-completely-wholesome tactics to acquire their own independence. To wipe out the Palestinians for attempting the same thing would be to condemn themselves.

That said, this uptick in suicide bombings may finally wear Israel's restraint out and prove most deadly for Arafat and company. Any sympathy for Palestinians vanishes when every Palestinian is considered a potential walking time bomb.

I almost never agree with Joe Sobran. About much of anything, but specifically about Israel. But he wrote a column a while back that made a point that makes so much sense that I have to link to it. He wrote, "The Palestinians’ best bet is not violence, but peaceful appeals to the Jewish conscience. ... [This] conscience is the Palestinians’ greatest weapon, but they are wasting it by frightening the Jews to death. ... [T]he conquerors can only be conquered by peace. I don’t think this is utopian advice; I think it’s hard realism."

posted by Jeremy at 5:04 AM


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SAD BUT TRUE: Steve Chapman argues in Slate that if you want free trade then a Democrat president is probably the best vehicle for accomplishing this. The case he builds is pretty persuasive. WANTED: A Republican president who will espouse a belief in free trade… and mean it.

posted by Jeremy at 3:54 AM


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BROCK TALK: Talk about getting the reviewer one deserves. The bio line of the Washington Post's reviewer of David Brock's new book reads as follows: " Bruce Bawer is the author of 'A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society' and 'Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity.'" My first thought on reading that was, Why didn't they just get Michelangelo Signorile to review it?

But then I read the review and was soundly disabused of my preconceived reflexes. The pompously titled book ("Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative" - pin a rose on your nose David) comes off sounding catty, nasty and too self-aggrandizing by half. Brock insists, says Bawer, that he was really a classical liberal at heart, but that he got caught up in a bigoted conservative crowd and dwagged into saying and writing aww kinds of nawty widdle tings about perfectly decent, albeit liberal, human beings. If David Brock is a classical liberal then I'm the Easter Bunny.

I won't be reading his new book (unless somebody out there wants me to review it) and neither, I suspect, will a whole lot of other people. Brock, and the crowd he currently hangs with, is so last decade.

(Full disclosure: Even though I've never met Brock, I wrote a bit for the American Spectator last summer and thus found Brock's attacks against longtime managing editor and gentleman Wlady Pleszczynski - my current editor at The American Prowler - to be unlikely, humorless and mean; thus the snarky tone of the above post.)


posted by Jeremy at 3:42 AM


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DIVIDE THIS!: Robert Samuelson has provided an invaluable public service by finally, publicly and definitively driving a stake through all this talk of a "digital divide" - the idea that a fixed disparity of access to computers and the Internet is creating a new caste of well paid digital "haves" and poorly compensated digital "have nots" – in the current Newsweek.

With his characteristic understated style (see my review of his most recent book here) Samuelson declares the divide "largely fiction" and proceeds to demonstrate why this is so: falling technology prices have made computers and Internet access more affordable for the lower middle class who are quickly closing any gap between them and their betters; new user friendliness of programs have made it less difficult for those of intermediate intelligence to operate computers; the effects of computer training on wages and productivity have - surprise! - been overstated.

His conclusion: "[Proponents of] the 'digital divide' suggested a simple solution (computers) for a complex problem (poverty). With more computer access, the poor could escape their lot. But computers never were the source of anyone’s poverty and, as for escaping, what people do for themselves matters more than what technology can do for them."

Amen.


posted by Jeremy at 3:08 AM


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LINKS: Thanks to Unqualified Offerings' Jim Henley for the fine recommendation.

posted by Jeremy at 2:38 AM


wThursday, March 21, 2002


DELAYS, DELAYS: Apologies for the few posts this week. School, work and company are conspiring to monopolize (triopolize?) my time. Check back tomorrow. Meantime, my article on Amazon vs. AOL is today's WorldNetDaily column du jour. Men's News Daily also prominently linked it.

posted by Jeremy at 1:30 PM


wWednesday, March 20, 2002


ROAR: When I was still on active duty at Spintech (before "emeritus" was attached to my title) I used to love editing Paul Hein columns. They generally didn't need a whole lot of work - though I had to drum the one-space-between-sentences rule into his head - but I got to see them first and I had fun interacting with Paul - whose favorite refrain was "I'm 110 years old!"

Well this week he has a doozy of a column on a fallen lion of Afghanistan named Marjan, whose death was mourned by hundreds and who "had come to symbolize Afghanistan by his quiet dignity, and with the fall of the Taliban, he became an internationally known embodiment of his country." Money flooded into the country to create a statue commemorating the great Marjan.

The punchline: Marjan was a actual lion, in an Afghan zoo, that died of kidney and liver failure. Hein questions the story's placement in his local paper and concludes that, had he been a foreign correspondent "when informed of Marjan’s demise, I think I would have been galvanized into unconcern. ... When told I was to write an article about the event, with accompanying photo, I would have seriously considered resigning."

posted by Jeremy at 11:21 AM


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PASSED ON WITHOUT COMMENT:

"Dear Sir or Madam:

"If you are writing to protest a National Review article that advocates nuking Mecca, I want to make this clear: There is no such article, never has been. I do not favor bombing Mecca. A group called CAIR has grossly distorted what I wrote in a March 7 online forum -- most of which was meant to be sarcastic -- to suggest that I'm an advocate of bombing Islam's holiest site. Of course, Mecca would never be a valid target. Which is why I wrote these two sentences that CAIR and others have never seen fit to quote: "How would the U.S. respond if al Qaeda succeeded in detonating a nuke in a major American city? This is the disturbing thing: I'm not really sure what we could do any differently from what we're doing now."

"Thanks for writing.

"Rich Lowry"

posted by Jeremy at 11:03 AM


wTuesday, March 19, 2002


AOL VS. AMAZON: The American Prowler today is running a piece by yours truly on the successes of Amazon vs. the rough ride that AOL's been having. The thesis is that greed, improperly directed, is bad for business. I quote heavily from two John Ellis New York Press columns on Amazon's past debt crisis and the AOL/Time Warner merger. They are well worth a read as well.

posted by Jeremy at 11:21 AM


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BLOGGER NOTES: Apologies to those these last few weeks who had to put up with my screwing with the format. I was going to have posts archived weekly and thus display seven days at a time on the front page. Only one problem: The archiving mechanism on Blogger is not as precise an instrument as I had hoped. It "lost" four days, not by deleting them but by making it almost impossible for anybody but me to access them. To "recover" those posts, I changed the settings to display two weeks at a time up front, which, of course made for monster loading times, even on my computer.

The new compromise, which I will stick with for the time being, is to set Blogger to archive by month and to display eight days worth of posts on the front page. It will be a bit more inconvenient to search for past posts but it will be searchable (and I'll eventually look into a search engine). If Blogger can keep the monthly archive from screwing up and if I can keep from spewing forth too many posts, what we should end up with is a better, more functional website.

So why do I hear the voice of Mrs. Murphy cackling?


posted by Jeremy at 11:20 AM


wMonday, March 18, 2002


THEY CAIR: In an item on The Corner yesterday ("Peace Loving Muslim Update"; sorry, but I can't get a fix on the individual link) Rod Dreher denounced the grenade attack on a Protestant church in Pakistan on Sunday, which killed five people and injured 45 others.

Dreher was right to decry this barbarity. Those who attack peaceful churchgoers lower themselves to the level of beasts and need to be found and put down. But then, in light of, ahem, recent events, Dreher added the following dig: "We await [the Council on American Islamic Relations]'s e-mail campaign denouncing this violence."

These things are, of course, fungible, and I'd love to be wrong on this one. But Dreher's post is time-stamped 6:47 PM.

And it would have been a great dig too, except that, at 10:37 AM - as in "that morning" (though I didn't receive it until 3 PM, my time) - CAIR had sent out a statement denouncing the attacks. Specifically, Chairman Omar Ahmad wrote,

"We condemn this attack in the strongest terms possible and call for the apprehension of the perpetrators. It is not only an act of terrorism against innocent civilians, but is also an assault on the sanctity of a house of worship. No political or religious cause could justify such horrifying violence."

This was sent out to all the people on CAIR's e-mail list. If it fell short of a denunciation of the violence, I'm not sure what would qualify.

Look, it was Sunday, at the end of a long tense week in which a whole bunch of Muslims had written him angry e-mails and many of his co-religionists (Dreher’s Catholic but he’s pretty ecumenical) had just been attacked by grenade. I’m not accusing Dreher of dishonesty, I simply think that he should add a new post to The Corner that quotes CAIR’s denunciation of said attacks.

posted by Jeremy at 11:31 AM


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REBELS AND REALPOLITIK: My review of Jesse Walker's Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America has been posted on the Chronicles website. I review a lot of books to pay the bills but this one fell under that rare category of a book that I actually enjoyed writing about.

posted by Jeremy at 10:42 AM


wSunday, March 17, 2002


INTRODUCING: Here's the debut of my kid brother to the world of opinion journalism. I edited it a bit but the points are his own. It was a five-paragraph essay assignment for an English class. The 'lil guy comes out swinging against school uniforms. Not bad for a 12 year old, eh? (Send me any comments and I'll pass them along.)

"Dear Ms. ______,

"School uniforms are a very bad idea. This letter will explain why we should not adopt them. I list three arguments against uniforms, but the list could be much longer. First, kids need to be able to express themselves. Part of this is picking out the clothes that we want to wear. Second, uniforms are almost always ugly. Third, they are rarely comfortable.

"On the first point, when I wake up in the morning, I ask myself what I want to wear to school that day. I would rather not have somebody else pick out my clothes for me because then those clothes would not be an expression of what I want to say. This isn't to say that common sense doesn't matter: If it's cold, I wear a sweater; if warm, shorts. But I don't want somebody else to dictate that I wear the same thing every day.

"Second, I'm sorry but I do not want to wear an ugly [ass] uniform. I would rather be left free to choose something that looks good. One argument in favor of uniforms is that they make everybody look the same (ugly), but in practice this is not true. Not only will they look better on some people than others, everybody will try their best to alter the look of their individual uniforms to try to look different, and to cover over the ugliness foisted upon us by school administrators.

"Finally, uniforms tend to be uncomfortable. Those who pick the uniforms for us wouldn't dare to wear them. It would damage my ability to pay attention in class if I was in uncomfortable clothing. I wouldn't study as hard and I'd have a harder time performing on tests. There are many kids who would be similarly challenged.

"I have listed a few reasons why we should not have school uniforms. Bottom line: Kids would be unhappy and it would rebound poorly to their performance in class. If we attend school to be educated, then introducing uniforms would have a profoundly negative effect.

"Cordially,

"Chris Lott."


posted by Jeremy at 11:52 PM


wSaturday, March 16, 2002


MONDAY: Check back then for more laughs, more insight, more mayhem and, hopefully, no more angry Muslims.

posted by Jeremy at 11:58 AM


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I DON'T WANT TO SOUND LIKE A SNOB HERE, BUT: I don't get Amazon.com reviewers. I'm not talking about the guy who reads the odd book and feels the need to share his thoughts with others. I'm talking about people who read books and relentlessly post their reviews to Amazon. Why? What's the payoff? Maybe readers can enlighten me.

posted by Jeremy at 11:54 AM


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MATURITY: Thanks to Rich Lowry for pointing me to this decent Peggy Noonan column. He calls a point she makes near the end "perfectly fair and reasonable." The point?

"[W]e should probably not be having chatty conversations about whether or not it would be a good idea to take out Mecca."

Note to CAIR: There's your apology. Stop cc'ing me angry e-mails.

I suppose I should say something else here. Impart some faux pearl of wisdom like Jerry Springer's monologues at the end of his ridiculous programs. Explain how pride goeth before gravity sets in; or why wolves shouldn't be cried too often; or say something about snakes and gardens and shiny red apples. But it's been a long week and my father's the preacher in the family and pastors' kids, as we all know, are the scum of the earth.

Well, we may be that but we - most of us pk's - learn, however haltingly and uneasily, how to pray. And we feel some primitive unbending obligation to do so. A radical a very long time ago extended that obligation to include even our enemies, so I think I shall be praying for Rich Lowry and all the folks at National Review for a very long time. If they want to extend me the same courtesy, then so be it.


posted by Jeremy at 1:44 AM


wFriday, March 15, 2002


O' BROTHER: The announcement that Bill O'Reilly is making the jump to talk radio left me with only one burning question: Why? O'Reilly already cleans up with Fox News to the tune of tens of millions a year (I believe the figure is $20 million, but I haven't been able to verify that), he cleans up with his syndicated column, his only novel is being turned into a movie by Mel Gibson. Why talk radio?

A friend speculated that it's the next logical thing; what else is he going to do? But it might be more reasonably characterized as a bad idea whose time has come. There are only so many hours in a day - even for Bill O'Reilly - and something's going to suffer. Either his column is going to get worse (unlikely), or his personal life will get a little chaotic, or his television show will lose its edge or, my pick, the radio program is going to tank faster than Elton John at a Jerry Falwell convention.

posted by Jeremy at 12:23 AM


wThursday, March 14, 2002


WE'RE NUMBER THREE!: Went to the dean's list presentation today and was shocked - shocked! - to learn that I had the third highest grade point average for last semester. I know this because they recognized the top four students in ascending order. Thank God I wasn't number four or I would have spilled my punch in my lap.

On their face, at least, the statistics given out at the presentation help to reassure one about the recent speculations about grade inflation at Trinity Western University. Just over 300 students made the list, with the minimum score of 3.6 (out of a possible 4.3 - it's a Canadian thing). This is in a school of about 3,000 students. So only 10 percent of the students managed a collective score of just below A - (3.7) or above. There may, of course, be a proliferation of B's, but it's nice to know that, at TWU, an A is still an A.

posted by Jeremy at 11:53 PM


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ONE LAST THING: I should make it clear that in the first paragraph of the long post below, by "survival instincts" I'm talking about Lowry's ability to weather scandals (when he backed off, TAP and I were just about to "take it to the mattresses," so to speak) not the unfortunate fact of credible Muslim threats.

posted by Jeremy at 11:01 AM


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THE WAR THAT ALMOST WAS: Now that the angry Muslim e-mails have slowed to a trickle, I finally have time to think and lay out what, hopefully, is my last missive on the subject of what has come to be known as Mecca gate. First of all, my hat's off to National Review Editor Rich Lowry for two things: 1) for doing his damnedest to change the subject and 2) for backing off just in the nick of time. What can I say, the guy's got excellent survival instincts.

Right out of the gate, Lowry tried to get around the substantive criticism of my original piece on The American Prospect Online by seizing on a misattribution of a quote on my part and riding that for all it was worth. He waxed nigh eloquent over my use of ellipses to shorten a disjointed sentence, even though I conveyed what I judged to be the important supposedly-deleted point in the next sentence of my piece. ("[Lowry] also noted the possible deterrent effects of radical Muslims thinking us so palpably crazy that we would reduce their holy city to a pile of glowing cinders.") He claimed that I was lacking something called a "sarcasm detector" (noooo) and, of course, that I had missed the context of his original posts.

That last point first: No I didn't. My piece clearly states that he was writing in response to/speculating about what should be done in the event of a nuclear detonation on U.S. soil. It also makes clear that the "sentiment for nuking Mecca" came from e-mails sent by readers. Had Lowry left it at that, my article wouldn't have been written. But he didn't. Instead he seriously entertained that notion. Notwithstanding his caveat that "This is a tough one, and I don’t know quite what to think," he launched into the following... call it what you will:

"Mecca seems extreme, of course, but then again few people would die and it would send a signal. Religions have suffered such catastrophic setbacks before. As for the Saudis, my only thought is that if we're going to hold them responsible for terrorism, we had better start doing it now, not after an even more catastrophic attack. And, as a general matter, the time for seriousness—including figuring out what we would do in retaliation, so maybe it can have some slight deterrent effect--is now rather than after thousands and thousands more American casualties."

Lowry argued to Lloyd Grove that he was employing "understated sarcasm." If so, it was too understated for most reasonable people to detect. And just because he is now telling anybody who will listen that he does not want to bomb Mecca - and, for what it's worth, I believe him -, that doesn't erase the fact that he lent support to the case for doing so. In an e-mail to me, Lowry explained that he "would have gone into all the reasons not to [nuke Mecca] if I were writing a column on the idea of nuking Mecca, but it was two lines in a web log!"

He requested that I provide more of that famous context in my reply. This I did, quoting the above long paragraph and again reiterating that his speculation about nuking Mecca was contingent upon a nuclear strike of some kind on the U.S. A fat lot of good it did. In his reply (boy this back and forth is getting a bit much but bear with me) Lowry bitches about perceived flaws in the first piece rather than noting that - viola! - the long block quote is included in the second. It still doesn't strike me as any less damning, but who knows, some people might find it exculpatory.

(He also asked, in re the suggestion that he, I stress, only quoted, that the U.S. should nuke any population that cheers in the event of a nuke strike on the U.S., why I didn't attack Glenn Reynolds for having suggested the same thing? Um, I didn't see it but, I'll take his word for it. Bad Glenn, bad!)

Then there is the matter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, the source of most of Lowry's actual grief which he funneled in my direction. In a mass e-mail and on their website, CAIR included selected (and selective) quotations from what Lowry had written and asked members to write in.

Angry Muslims (and others) duly spammed National Review and flooded the office with calls. Since I was on the cc list of places to send e-comments, I got a lot of e-mails. Without doing a count, I'd guess 350, so far. I had to change the "forward" setting at my deviantreadings account so that it didn't crash the other account; the one I prefer to use. The responses were mostly in what I would call the "angry-but-polite" category: expressing outrage, asking for/demanding an apology and then thanking NR for taking the time to read the message.

However, there were a few letters that I, and not a few lawyers, might consider threatening. I posted one earlier and expressed my disapproval but, while we're playing the "for the record" game, for the record, anybody who uses Rich Lowry's stupid comments as an excuse to commit or incite violence ought to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In fact, should such a thing occur, and I pray to God it doesn’t, I will be at the sentencing hearing arguing for the strictest punishment that could be handed out (though I'm certain that NRnicks would resent my presence there).

I find the fact that I’m contemplating such a possibility to be a truly surreal experience, and not in a good way. When I agreed to do the story last Friday, I envisioned it as a funny piece that would make a serious point about the dangers of excessive warmongering. I think that's what it was, but I never factored in the prospect of hundreds (if not thousands) of angry Muslims. One writer said (and I'm quoting from memory but this isn't the thing that you tend to forget): "Mr. Lowry, Mecca matters more to us than our own lives."

As you can see from the above post, I've thought about this long and deep since Rich dragged me out of bed this morning to yell at me. He also yelled at my editor. Then, suddenly, he decided to drop it. Very wise move on his part.


posted by Jeremy at 5:06 AM


wWednesday, March 13, 2002


ONE THING I WONDER: Why didn't National Review just pull the posts after my article ran? Because of a glitch, it was up for most of a day before the TAP article was made to point in the appropriate direction. It was only after it was fixed that the Council on American Islamic Relations issued their fatwa (yeah, I know I'm wildly misusing that term but it's one of those days), which led to the deluge of angry Muslim e-mails.

If NR had yanked it, I'm not exactly sure what would have happened. But CAIR might not have sounded the alarms and even if they did a) it would have had a much-diminished effect and b) Lowry and company could've simply refused to comment, letting the deletion serve as a de facto apology. That would have robbed those sails of wind in a hurry.

posted by Jeremy at 1:04 PM


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WAKE A GUY UP IN THE MORNING: Barrage him with leading questions and snarky mock outrage. Play to his misguided instincts for fairness. Quote him wildly out of his sleep-encrusted context. What do you get? Why, Rich Lowry's most recent response, of course!

He ends by back-handedly saying that he feels sorry for me: "he sounds like a nice kid, who just doesn’t quite know what he’s doing yet."

Yeah, that's exactly what I sound like. AT 7:30 IN THE MORNING!

posted by Jeremy at 12:43 PM


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HE ALSO E-MAILED ME: He signed off "disappointed and appalled." Groan.

posted by Jeremy at 10:54 AM


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MY RESPONSE TO LOWRY'S CRITICISM: Is up.

posted by Jeremy at 10:50 AM


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WOKEN UP BY A PHONE CALL: From an irate Rich Lowry this morning. He didn't say I was being recorded but I'm sure some of those sleep-encrusted comments are going to make it into an article of his. Meantime, the e-mail total has run well past 200.

posted by Jeremy at 10:47 AM


wTuesday, March 12, 2002


ENOUGH: For me for the night.

posted by Jeremy at 11:10 PM


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GRACE: And then you read e-mails like the following one, from an anonymous e-mailer, and it breaks your heart. I've corrected a few spellings because it's obvious that this isn't the writer's first language:

"Dear sir,

"I am so disappointed by these comment made. Do they really show how you feel about Islam and Muslims?

"God bless You with more wisdom. Thank you."

Not normally emotional, I teared up just typesetting that.

posted by Jeremy at 11:09 PM


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I AM CASSANDRA!: Then there's the Greek chorus (Arabic chorus? - chalk one up for globalization!) demanding an apology. Not sure what to think of that.

On the one hand, yeah, what Lowry said was "boneheaded" and "insensitive" and [fill in favorite term for grievance here]. And Dreher didn't help matters by chiming in. On the other, this modern thin-skinnedness on the part of Americans of all walks, but in this case Muslims, is more than grating. Worse, an apology nowadays is just the beginning. If Lowry apologizes, then the sincerity of it will be loudly, publicly doubted and people will always be throwing it back in his face.

I won't say what I'd do if I was him because I honestly don't know.


posted by Jeremy at 11:01 PM


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UNFUNNY: I've been scanning this mail from outraged Muslims and... well, most of it's polite. Too many Holocaust references for my taste but it's good to see people of the Islamic faith forthrightly condemning the murder millions of Jews. However, the following unrepresentative letter and a few others like it are utterly inexcusable:

"Subject: You thinking Nuking Mecca is Funny...!?!!!!

"...killing thousands of civilians? Destroying the holiest site on earth to 1.6 BILLION PEOPLE?

"YOU THINK THAT IS FUNNY?!!

"WHAT WOULD BE EVEN 'FUNNIER' IS IF YOUR REMARKS REACH A DERANGED MUSLIM THAT PUTS A BULLET INTO YOUR HEAD.

"HAHAHAHA.....!!!!!!

"THAT WOULD BE REALLY FUNNY..!"

You expect the writer to fall over dead like Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride.

Lowry, remember, was speculating on how to respond in the case of a nuclear attack. He went over the top and I zinged him for it. This narrow subset of letters, on the other hand, comes this close to threatening someone because of what is, at this moment (climbing down from that high horse), idle speculation.

Not cool, guys. Very not cool.


posted by Jeremy at 10:37 PM


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THE POST: Apparently the story is going to be in the Washington Post tomorrow but Lloyd Grove never phoned me, so I had no input on that front.

posted by Jeremy at 10:21 PM


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THEY JUST KEEP POURING IN: About 140 messages thus far demanding a National Review apology. I'm not sure if that approaches an accurate count or if only a fraction of the people cc'd me.

posted by Jeremy at 10:16 PM


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WOW: Believe it or not but I had no idea this story on nuking Mecca would have such legs. Having spent the last two hours deleting the cc's of angry Muslim letters to National Review out of my e-mail box, I am now thoroughly convinced. (There goes NR for a possible internship this summer. Oh well.) The American Prospect is going to carry my response to Lowry's remarks tomorrow.

posted by Jeremy at 5:19 PM


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IT'S CALLED SATIRE: Quite a while back, I published the mock news story, "KKK Recruiting Blacks," on Spintech. This morning, I received the following e-mail from a person whose name and location I've decided to change. Everything else, save one spelling correction, is an exact replica. I am not making this up:

"Dear Mr. Lott,

"I am a senior high school student in New York doing a report on the KKK and found your article about the KKK recruiting blacks from July 12, 1999 online. I am trying to find out who the spokesman you quoted was. I cannot seem to find his name anywhere. Can you help me, I would appreciate it very much.

"Jane Doe"

posted by Jeremy at 1:20 PM


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WTC POSTURING: I was quite disappointed when I went to Enter Stage Right yesterday and didn't find Larry Henry's column. Thankfully, it appears today on The American Prowler. The subject is the recent House hearings about the collapse of the World Trade Center. Henry observed "Committee members strutt[ing] and bloviat[ing] and demand[ing] to know why the World Trade Center towers had fallen down." Um, could it have had anything to do with the fact that two airliners full of fuel crashed into them?

posted by Jeremy at 1:09 PM


wMonday, March 11, 2002


I'M NUMBER SEVEN!: Or eight. Or nine. Out of 125 entrants in the Felix Morley Journalism competition for 2001-2002, I landed in the "honorable mention" slot. It appears seventh on the page but it's more like fifth or ninth, depending on how you delineate it and where you land in that "glass half empty/full" debate.

There are three descending cash prizes for first, second and third place finishers ($2,500, $1,000 and $750) followed by three equally compensated runners up ($250) and three “so sorry” honorable mentions. I’m at the head of last category but one gets the feeling that it really doesn’t matter where you land once there’s no more monetary gradation - and this is made more likely by the fact that my honorable co-winners, and the runners up, are listed in alphabetical order.

Well it looks like I won't be getting that imaginary laptop but congrats are in order to first my sometime editor and first place finisher Sara Rimensnyder, of Reason Magazine, as well as to Jason Miller, contributor to Spintech. (Yes, I edited the linked essay, so you can blame me for that whopper of a wrong word choice near the end.)

I could be bitter that one of the essays I edited helped to do me in regarding the cash prize, but a) it was a great essay and b) Lotts never win prizes - we're genetically and in all other ways disinclined. Three of my entered essays are currently on the Web. They are "The Less-Open Society," from Reason; "I'm Not In It for the Money," from Christianity Today; and "Bonnie Get Your Gun Off." I'll try to badger the Weekly Standard into putting up the fourth (of five) for later this week.

posted by Jeremy at 11:05 PM


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MY TAP PIECE ON NR AND NUKING MECCA: Is up.

posted by Jeremy at 6:03 PM


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I'M LIKE, FER SURE: Spent part of the weekend doing that least favorite of journalistic activities: transcribing. It was made worse by the fact that the interview was with three late teen to early twentysomething girls whose vocabularies were chock-a-block with likes and anywayses and other grammatical imprecisions. You simply have to clean that up in its printed form, unless you want to embarrass them.

(And, seeing as how my recorded comments come off as less than precise, I’d rather not chuck rocks into that particular greenhouse.)

Problem: How do you render “I’m like” or “I was like”? Does she mean “I said” or “I thought” or “I asked” or what? Context is only occasionally helpful. I’ve no expertise in this area but I wonder if common language was always this sloppy or if we’ve degenerated.


posted by Jeremy at 12:13 PM


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INSPIRED BY MAGNUSSON: And the antiwar movement of yesteryear: Free trade through protectionism is like virginity through... oh, you figure it out.

posted by Jeremy at 12:08 PM


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MORE ON THE BUSH STEAL: The Mighty Instapundit, as Kaus calls him, thinks that Bush's retrograde decision to slap steel tariffs on foreign steel is less than a big deal. Reynolds says that there isn't a free market in steel now, nor has that ever been the case. "In some sort of foul Stalinist afterecho," he says, "countries around the world seem to equate a steel industry with prosperity and national security."

Reynolds notes that most countries heavily subsidize and shelter their steel industries, so Bush's decision, to use an unfortunate simile that I still can't get out of my head, isn't "like pissing on the virgin snow of free trade." Enter Paul Magnusson.

In a Business Week article (no link because I'm not going to waste your time with something that requires a lengthy registration; look it up if you're interested) Magnusson spells out Bush's "ultimate goal" - convincing the rest of the world's governments to get out of the steel business - and judges it to be "laudable." "For that," explains Magnusson, "he'll have to get all steel-producing nations back to the bargaining table for some no-nonsense talks." And the recent announcement is meant to serve as just such a catalyst.

How's that for a contrarian streak: Free trade through the imposition of tariffs.


posted by Jeremy at 11:46 AM


wFriday, March 08, 2002


SOME HOLIDAY: Well Blogger problems (and el ton o' work) took the sails out of Pundit Bashing Day. That's too bad as I had a whole bunch of material ready to go on Jonathan Chait, Paul Krugman, Thomas Friedman, David Plotz and the general awfulness of the New York Times editorial page. I'll have to fold it into the fracas next week. Too many things to do this weekend to blog so check back Monday. Also on deck for Monday: Why are grad students and college profs so leftist? (Hint: It has little to do with what they learn in classes.)

posted by Jeremy at 11:02 PM


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WARMONGER STILL: Reader (and columnist) Larry Henry wrote to say that I misread Lowry, or took him out of context, or something. To decide who's right, start here and scroll up. I'd write more but I'm working on a piece for The American Prospect.

posted by Jeremy at 10:51 PM


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WHY I AM NOT A WARMONGER: Writing about retaliatory strikes in the case of nuclear detonation on American soil, National Review's Rich Lowry says - and I am not making this up - that there's "lots of sentiment for nuking Mecca." He allows that "Mecca seems extreme, of course" - of course - "but then again few people would die and it would send a signal" (posts here and here).

That's the Mecca he's talking about. The holy city toward which Muslims direct their prayers. The place that all good Muslims have a religious obligation to make a pilgrimage to at least once in their lives. The Islamic equivalent of Jerusalem for the Jews - only more so.

I carry no water for the Islamic faith but Lowry's jingoism is so patently insane - so warmongeringly inept; so unredeemably, vilely, rancidly stupid - that somebody has to beat the boy about the ears with fish.

On second thought, let's nuke Mecca. Let's radiate those religious pilgrims and make future trips perilous to impossible. Let's tell the Islamic world that it was only tit for tat; an eye for an eye. They’ll understand. And then let's ready ourselves, our children and our institutions for the coming onslaught in a religious war that won't cease until Kingdom Come.

posted by Jeremy at 3:07 PM


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PUNDIT BASHING DAY: This cold snap (I live in Northwest Washington) has put me in such a dour mood that I declare the rest of the day to be the first ever annual Pundit Bashing Day – a day dedicated to exposing the absurdities of the chattering class. Mark the eighth of March down on your calendars, folks.

posted by Jeremy at 2:32 PM


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MORE ON GRAHAM: Cal Thomas is often an ass but he’s nailed it with his take on the Billy Graham swarming Jews controversy. "Graham is no bigot," says Thomas, "although he sounds like one on the tape." Had Graham told the prez to cut that out, Nixon would likely never have invited him back to the White House.

That, argues Thomas, is "the way the game is played between politicians and clergy. And the clergy always lose in the end because it is their principles that must be sacrificed if their proximity to supposed power is to continue and their illusion of influence to be maintained."


posted by Jeremy at 1:37 PM


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THE AUTHOR AS ANGRY DEITY: As I was reviewing a couple of books for The Stranger last night, I was reminded of an unpleasant truth about creators that Joel Miller had to help me formulate. They may harbor good feelings for their characters, but if they want to keep an audience interested, they must act like angry unreasonable deities – putting them through sheer hell for our entertainment. If there’s no misery there’s no story; no conflict, no resolution. They may bring their books to a satisfying resolution but it's worth remembering that storytellers are the polar opposite of peacemakers.

posted by Jeremy at 1:19 PM


wThursday, March 07, 2002


THAT'S NOT FUNNY!: WARNING: Christopher Moore's new novel, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, has a lot of, er, moments that could threaten the health of those with a sense of humor and a bad heart. If it's possible that you could die laughing, then don't read this book. Here is an ad hoc funeral dirge by Biff, Jesus' fictitious childhood pal, at the burial of a the mother of a rich priest:

"La-la-la. Oh we are really, really sad that your mom is dead. Too bad you're a Sadducee and don't believe in an afterlife and your mom is just going to be worm food, la-la. Makes you want to reconsider, huh? Fa-la-la-la-la-la-wacka-wacka." (It sounded great in Aramaic. Really.)


posted by Jeremy at 9:36 PM


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GOOD EDIT: Christianity Today has finally put my review of two wacky Christian novels up on its website. Doug Leblanc had to trim the word count from 1,500 to its current length of 820 words. He did such a good job that I'm conflicted about whether I should post the original, as I often do when I own the rights to a piece that underwent extensive revision.

posted by Jeremy at 9:16 PM


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SECOND HAND BLISS: When she was interviewing me about a forthcoming piece in Reason, Sara Rimensnyder asked if there was anything that I like about Canada. I blurted out the first thing that sprang to mind: "You can still smoke in the malls." I'm not a smoker but a) I hate the self righteous preening of the anti-smoking crowd (here is a review of former FDA chief David Kessler's most recent book) and b) I think second hand smoke is yummy.

Maybe I should take a trip to Israel where Howard Mortman reports that smoking is illegal in public places but everybody lights up anyway. According to Mortman, Israelis don't require health warnings on their cigarette packages, don't hike cigarette taxes to discourage smoking and don't even stop the kids from buying smokes and puffing away. "Someday these approaches to social engineering may all come to [Israel]," says Mortman, but they are "likely [to] be ignored." Here's hoping.

posted by Jeremy at 5:13 PM


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SINCE YOU ASKED: Quite a few people, given this site's unique business model, have questioned the name. Does it mean "ads for Jeremy," they asked. No, but that's not a bad value added bonus. Here is the relevant entry from Merriam-Webster Online:

Main Entry: jer·e·mi·ad
Pronunciation: jer-a-mI-ad
Function: noun
Etymology: French jérémiade, from Jérémie Jeremiah, from Late Latin Jeremias
Date: 1780
: a prolonged lamentation or complaint; also : a cautionary or angry harangue

Beats the hell out of trying to explain Deviant Readings.

posted by Jeremy at 3:55 PM


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LAPDOG REDIVIVUS: Apparently I wasn't the only one royally pissed off about Bush's decision on steel tariffs. George Will called the prez "less principled than Bill Clinton." But I think Will is just being taxophobic.

posted by Jeremy at 3:19 PM


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MISREMEMBERED?: Alas, in the current flap between caveman Alec Baldwin and Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Baldwin is correct. To be fair to Jeb, I also thought I remembered Baldwin being one of the promised Hollywood expatriates. But then I checked this Spintech column in which I promised to leave the country if Al Gore won and Baldwin, indeed, was not among my opposite numbers.

posted by Jeremy at 3:40 AM


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DU JOUR: My piece on David Frum made WorldNetDaily's column of the day today.

posted by Jeremy at 3:22 AM


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STEALING OUR RESOLVE: As a fairly stubborn fiscal libertarian, I'm against subsidies in general - and in almost every possible specific instance - on principle. There are very few times, if any, when Joe Taxpayer's hard-earned money should be appropriated by politicians to buy off frustrated down-on-their-luck voters.

That said, subsidies are far far preferable to tariffs and President Bush's decision (here's the White House spin; here's a more realistic anticipatory view) to opt for tariffs over subsidies in the case of steel protection may rank as the worst decision of his administration. Yes, Cheney had promised West Virginia steelworkers that, unlike Clinton, Bush would bring real relief to the beleaguered metallurgists. Yes, the state had then gone Republican when it normally tilts Democrat, thus delivering Bush's margin of victory in the electoral college. Yes, it improves Bush's standing with labor. And, yes, the domestic steel industry was in real danger of losing out to foreign competitors (cry me a river). None of these considerations count as an adequate reason to impose tariffs.

Here is a brief catalog of the fallout: The domestic price of steel will rise substantially, thus boosting the cost of domestic cars and heavy equipment. The World Trade Organization will either be turned into a laughing stock if Bush ignores its ruling, or the Administration will work behind the scenes to procure a favorable ruling, thus rendering it useless as a tool for combating trade barriers. Trade agreements will be harder to negotiate and fewer in number. Bush's authority for restraining spending has been impaled: Frustrated congressmen who might otherwise be persuaded to make sacrifices for the war effort are now thinking, "If the prez can soak the whole of America to assure re-election, then, dammit!, so can we." Bush's credibility to call for any sacrifices in the war on terror has been greatly diluted.

The thing that irks so much is that this didn't have to happen. If ever an election promise deserved to be discarded, this was it. But even assuming that Cheney's pledge to deliver real help to the steelworkers was binding, why not simply shower them with enough cash to roll around in? It would have bought them off without costing the rest of us an absolute bundle. It would have avoided the international harrumphing and trade wars by countries complaining, legitimately, that America doesn't practice what she preaches. And it would have been quietly overturned a few years hence care of an unfavorable WTO ruling.

This should have been a slam-dunk, especially for a president whose partisans keep pointing to his stratospheric popularity ratings. But in putting the interests of West Virginia against the rest of the country Bush is signaling electoral vulnerability and causing the world to have grave doubts about his commitment to free trade. That's a tragedy that not even Ari Fleischer can spin his way out of.


posted by Jeremy at 3:16 AM


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REPRINT: Razormouth - at which I am the one non-Reformed (semi)regular commentator - has reprinted my post on evangelicals and postmodernism. Also, Razormouth founder Joel Miller had a pretty funny WorldNetDaily column a few days back on Christian schlock. His McDonald's inspired Christian coffee warning: "NOT AS HOT AS THE LAKE OF FIRE, BUT PRETTY CLOSE."


posted by Jeremy at 2:07 AM


wWednesday, March 06, 2002


PAYING THE BILLS: The first fruits of the soon-to-be-famous Jeremiads business plan (see sidebar, top left-hand side) can be tasted in my new article , on the American Prospect Online, about David Frum leaving the White House. My only kvetch is that I was so wrapped up in writing the piece that I missed President Bush announcing the tariffs on foreign steel (about which, more later).

posted by Jeremy at 2:22 PM


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JEREMY LOTT BOOK CLUB: "The Wasted Nineties": Philip Gold's attempted (and catchy) summation of that decade. Of course, one doubts Nick Gillespie would agree.

posted by Jeremy at 2:11 PM


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CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL: And it might not hurt one's credibility much either. Take the recent case of Michael Bellesiles' book Arming America, which has now been shown to be substantially fraudulent. Read this crow-eating piece by Books & Culture editor John Wilson. He notes that he, along with a whole string of four-star reviewers was "badly wrong in my judgment." As evidence mounted that Bellesiles had misused and/or falsified much of his documentation Wilson "hung my head in shame" for having allowed himself "to be seduced by the thrill of a thesis that overturned common wisdom." Further: "I didn't practice reasonable skepticism in the face of Bellesiles's provocative claims."

Wilson was not only wrong but "badly wrong," and he went wrong by attempting to overturn the wisdom of the great unwashed masses. This snobbery, he admits, obscured his job as a reviewer. As apologies go nowadays, this approaches genuine contrition. Does one's opinion of Wilson go up or down in response to these admissions? And would one be more likely or less to trust future content from Books & Culture (at which, full disclosure, I'm on the masthead)?

I mention this because Slate's Jack Shafer issued a similar apology in yesterday's edition of the online magazine. After laying out in vivid detail all the reasons that Slate was "duped," as he put it, by a supposed CEO of a European auto manufacturer into publishing a few diary pieces, Shafer said that the fraudulent articles were going to be retained (though labeled as such) "in the interests of transparency, and as a reminder to ourselves that we've failed your trust." His magazine "apologizes to its readers and promises greater vigilance in the future."

No fuss, no muss, just "boy did we elf that one up," a chronicle of the reasons why they elfed that one up and what I assume is a genuine pledge to fix the problem to keep from elfing it up in the future. As cloying as this sounds, the honesty is almost refreshing.


posted by Jeremy at 2:05 PM


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NOTE TO SELF: Come up with better stock insults than "lying weasel."

posted by Jeremy at 12:14 PM


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CALIFORNIA (ELECTORAL) GOLD: Cheers to Californians for kicking that lying weasel (and possible murderer) Gary Condit out of office. Why Condit even bothered to make another run at it is beyond me.

Also, if early counts hold, Bill Simon knocked off Richard Riordan by a non-trivial margin for the honor of trying to oust another lying weasel, Gray Davis, from the Governor's Mansion. Bill Simon, the eponymous scion of the late Nixon Secretary of the Treasury, now has his work cut out for him. One plus is that he's running against a man whose tenure in office has been troubled, to say the least.

Davis expanded government, he created an energy crisis by tying the various utilities’ hands (see this column discussing the energy crisis and its effect on electoral prospects), he fought the end of bilingual education and is now - when test scores of poor brown kids have started to rise - trying to pander to separatist Latinos by attempting to bring it back. He is, in short, a man with a fat multi-ringed target painted on his chest; and Simon's potential quiver runneth over.

Then there is the matter of immigration. The mass influx of Mexicans has undoubtedly at least temporarily shifted the state to the left on economic issues, but this comes with a conservative social counter ballast. The largely Catholic Mexican immigrants tend to be much more against abortion and gay rights and such than their fellow Anglos. In his long treatment of California politics last year for The American Prospect, Harold Meyerson admitted as much but said that it didn't matter, because Latinos are now sophisticated enough politically to vote conservative on referendums and liberal on everything else.

We shall see. In many ways, this election should be the ideal test case. In the past decade or so, you've had a lot of potential good Catholic voters without a candidate with whom they could identify. Wilson was pro-abortion and anti-immigration. Lungren was too easily seen - like Davis and Riordan - as a politician who happens to be Catholic (and what kind of a Catholic teetotals?). With Simon the poles are reversed: He comes off as a good Catholic who just happens to be a politician and a sometimes-awkward one at that. Might this, the theory runs, not count for something with the new voters? Surely they might factor in that one of the candidates is like them when it comes time to pull that lever.

Whatever the outcome, this promises to be a most intriguing election. I know I'll be glued to the returns come election night.


posted by Jeremy at 3:02 AM


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HOOP CREAMS: Watched my bro's basketball team blow out another church team 87 to 42 tonight. Under other circumstances that might have been a particularly ugly massacre. As is, it was enjoyable; we even rooted for the losers once in a while.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for bad sportsmanship. A few years ago, when an American Olympic runner reached one arm behind him and taunted everyone who was eating his dust, I cheered, pissing off everybody else in the room in the process. But it's also cool to watch a bunch of clumsy college students and middle age guys just have fun out there.


posted by Jeremy at 1:51 AM


wTuesday, March 05, 2002


ON THE CANADIAN FRONT: Brian Doherty forwarded me this 1997 Suck piece, which, he said, prompted more hate mail than any other piece he's written. I especially like the knife-twisting ending: "The difference is, we're Americans. What Canadians don't seem to understand is that, for all practical cultural purposes, so are they." Ouch.



posted by Jeremy at 10:48 PM


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BEATING A DEAD HORSE SILLY: I'll have to try to keep this topic from becoming a Norm MacDonald-like obsession ("which again goes to prove my theory that Germans love David Hasselhoff") but this cover story from the current Report (with the irresistible title "A self-hating nation") buttresses a prediction that I made a while back. After September 11, the folding of Canada into the U.S. has become a matter of when, not if, says the Jeremy Lott crystal ball. According to the story a poll released last June - as in before the whole trade center fiasco - showed that 45 percent of Canadians "think it highly likely Canada will become part of a North American Union within 10 years." Kevin Michael Grace does a pretty good showing how compliant Canadian officials are either cheering on the U.S. or quietly, but grumblingly, acquiescing to all of Uncle Sam's demands.

posted by Jeremy at 6:51 PM


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PAYING THE BILLS: Posts will be sparse today because I have to write an analysis piece and a couple of book reviews, but if you check back really late, you might (no promises) be in for a treat.

posted by Jeremy at 3:10 AM


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GAY RIGHT WING OPRAH: At 15 percent, Andrew Sullivan’s got himself a pretty sweet deal with his new book club. Far be it from me to condemn profiteering but he picked the wrong book for next month’s offering. Rather than going for something gossipy and Bush centric (and already dissected by Andrew Ferguson), Sullivan should have elevated a book by a little known author, published by an obscure Seattle press (Discovery Institute Press).

The author is Philip Gold, who, in a pair of columns last year in Washington Law & Politics called September 11 with a beguiling clairvoyance. The first column ended thus:

"Now Jihadistan may not pose a mortal danger by the standards of the Axis or the old Soviet Union. But it would be a grievous mistake to believe that it poses no danger at all ... or that trials and treaties, press releases, self-righteous rhetoric and an occasional symbolic retaliation can deter them, protect us or keep Jihadistan from sparking something far larger and far worse."

And the second:

"And as we fill the body bags, what next?"

This, I remind, was before the U.S. had taken a single casualty. Gold's stunned editors prefaced his next column by saying that he had "accurately described the nature of Jihadistan, predicted the advent of mass terror on American soil, and proposed a set of solutions, many of (which are already underway)." And what did the media do with Seattle's Nostradamus? For the most part, they ignored him.

The chance may have come to set that right. I received in the mail today a copy of Against All Terrors: This People's Next Defense, Gold's take on what needs to be done in the next decade to combat "terrah," as the prez puts it. Give it a read and you may find yourselves light-years ahead of the curve.


posted by Jeremy at 3:08 AM


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POMO A NO NO: A few weeks ago, the senior pastor of the Baptist church I attend announced in a sermon that Christian pop psychology is bunk. Actually, he wasn’t quite that abrupt. Instead, he told us that every time some new theory is proposed, an evangelical writes a book using said theory as the rubric to reinterpret (and, often, upend) the entire the historic faith. Worse, sensible non-Christian experts often reject the theory and move on “and we’re still talking about it 10 years later.”

Too true but the observation applies to more than pop psychology. Evangelical universities also pick up new ideas and get them stuck in their maws like chewy peanut butter with depressing regularity. The latest example of this is postmodernism, which someone must have slipped into the drinking water at Trinity Western University.

To use the most immediate, navel gazing example, two of the three books for my current class on Christianity and its relationship with culture deal with postmodernism. Nor is this the first time that I’ve had to read books on the subject (see a review of a previous book here; one reader remarked that it read like a breezy Chesterton). In theology, in philosophy, even in biblical studies classes, the professors and students obsess on it to the point that, to pillage from Mencken, if you throw a brick out of a third story window at a modern evangelical university, chances are you’ll brain a postmodern.

Nor am I unjustifiably extrapolating from my own experience. In his famous Atlantic survey of emerging evangelical universities (scroll down to “Faith Meets Foucault”), Alan Wolfe found, time and time again, that postmodernism “ exercises … a fascination over the evangelical mind” that is, to put it politely, not on display elsewhere. Wolfe blamed this on the legacy of fundamentalism (“[S]cience, they believe, will have to defend itself against Jacques Derrida in a way it was never forced to do against William Jennings Bryan.”) but it is about equally likely that the postmodern fad can be explained by a far more American impulse: keeping up with the Joneses.

Think about it: A bunch of snotty French intellectuals come up with this grand new idea about the nature of “truth” and “story” and a few other words in ironic quotation marks, thrown in for good measure. It catches on in the early ‘90s in the U.S. and propels obscure English professors and lit theorists into the limelight. Evangelicals do their usual appropriating thing and become more postmodern than thou.

Ten years later evangelicals are still arguing over the importance of propositional truth, the loss of metanarrative and other inanities, while much of the rest of the academy has moved on to better, truer things. Maybe what's needed is somebody - or 'bodies - to clue them into the fact postmodernism... is so last week.


posted by Jeremy at 3:03 AM


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NEW SITE: Crisis, a magazine that one friend described as “a Catholic Commentary,” finally has itself a functioning website.

posted by Jeremy at 2:08 AM


wMonday, March 04, 2002


SOCRATES' LIKELY ADVICE FOR OVERACTIVE BLOGGERS: Pace thyself.

posted by Jeremy at 6:33 PM


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LINK NEWS: Jeremiads made Damian Penny’s list o links (scroll down; left-hand side). I won't make a habit of announcing every link but I’ve been a reader of Daimnation! for quite some time, so I’m honored. Actually, considering the provenance of the compliment, I’m honoured.

Also, Spintech – at which, the about page informs me, I hold the distinguished title of Senior Editor Emeritus – links the site with Mike’s I-knew-he’d-break-eventually blurb “Jeremy Lott finally blogs.”


posted by Jeremy at 2:10 PM


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THAT’S NOT FUNNY!: Pardon a poor hayseed American boy for wondering if the last line of this John O’Sullivan column isn’t just dripping with that famous British irony. The context would seem to contradict this conclusion but, well, you be the judge. O'Sullivan avers that defrocked pedophile priest John Geoghan "can only hope to find in prison the stern but loving Christ whom he evaded all too easily in the Boston Archdiocese."

Um - how to put this? - no. If he's lucky Geoghan can hope to find his way into the stern but loving hands of a guy named Bubba. More likely he and his fellow (alleged) child molester priests are on their knees saying many a rosary hoping for solitary confinement. Prisoners are startlingly intolerant of child molesters, the starched collars notwithstanding.


posted by Jeremy at 1:00 PM


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ONE MORE THING: On campaign finance. The cover of the 3/04 TNR says "Campaign finance reform is good for Bush, bad for Democrats, bad for Republicans, and good for America." How can it be bad for both Democrats and Republicans? Politics is a zero sum game with the same number of seats up for grabs in every election. Unless this will precipitate the rise of a third party (which is doubtful) then one party or the other is going to benefit, not both.

posted by Jeremy at 12:59 PM


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UH, HI "GOD": Most conservative writing about "the '60s" is unbelievably bad, for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that old (but poetically true) saw about how if you can remember the '60s, you weren't there; squares need not apply. Well Lawrence Henry was "there" and he somehow managed to retain a few choice (but not pleasant) memories.

If readers haven't read Henry, they really should make the effort to introduce themselves to his work. He's a longtime jazz/rock musician, relatively late father and self described "Tory Libertarian." Larry was a columnist for The American Partisan under my tenure who jumped ship shortly after things started going downhill and landed comfortably at Enter Stage Right. There, he knocks out a valuable weekly column on politics and culture.


posted by Jeremy at 10:16 AM


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VOUCH FOR IT?: The voucher case before the Supreme Court (Zelman vs. Simmons-Harris) should be a slam dunk. Legally, that is. If attaching money to children to pay for a religious education (or a secular one) is unconstitutional, then so is the G.I. Bill. There's always the chance that the Supremes won't see it that way, but then they have always been arbitrary and capricious deities.

The more interesting question is whether vouchers, in the long run, will be good for private education. With the expanded role of states (with the feds to follow shortly) in funding private schools, strings are inevitable and could easily become a noose. Discipline, textbooks and even the religious content of the teaching (can't have any "hate," however amorphously defined) will come under increasing government scrutiny.

Noting this John Rauch cheekily called vouchers "a liberal plot to destroy private schools" and asked some wealthy billionaire benefactor to step up and use his own dough to liberate poor children from bad schools by personally bankrolling their exodus.

Maybe a group of like-minded people should take out an ad in some upscale newspapers: WANTED: A philanthropic Moses.


posted by Jeremy at 9:35 AM


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CAMPAIGN FINANCE ZZZZ: The last letter of the alphabet (pronounced "zed" in Canada) typifies the average reaction to campaign finance reform but it shouldn't. Since it costs money to buy airtime and microphones and to cover printing costs, restrictions on how much money one can spend on political campaigns are, ipso facto, limits on free - as in "not restrained by the government" - speech.

Andrew Sullivan, who I do not want to make a habit of habitually quoting, urged Bush to sign the campaign finance bill when it hits his desk, even though Sullivan thought that parts of it were likely unconstitutional, on the assumption that the Supreme Court would set bad provisions aside.

Responding to an avalanche of criticism, Sullivan wrote (scroll down to CFR HYSTERIA ANTIDOTE) that if Congress knew "as a metaphysical certainty" that those provisions were unconstitutional, then it shouldn't have passed them. However, since such certainty doesn't exist in politics, it is wholly "legitimate for the Congress to say what it wants to happen, but [pass] it off" to the Supremes to sort it out.

It's such a vacuous response that I'm almost tempted to say that only a former editor of The New Republic could have written it. Only "tempted" because current editor Peter Beinart (and the 3/04 issue in general) appears to have done Sullivan one better. In the typical snarky TNR fashion, Beinart argues that many Republicans are not opposing the bill because of a principled stand on behalf free speech, because, you see, “in private, congressional Republicans don't bother with all this free speech talk...” They are instead (gasp!) concerned with winning elections and they think Shays-Meehan will handicap them.

Well so what? What difference (except in a “metaphysical” sense) does it make if a man argues for the right thing from the wrong motives? Oh, you might have suspicions about the man. You might count the silver after he’s gone and advise your daughter not to date him. But unless you are a fool you would not discount what he was saying out of hand. And what “metaphysical certainty” does “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” fail to instill?

Using Sullivan’s and Beinart’s logic, I recommend that Congress restrict celebrity bloggers and left wing for-profit magazines from publishing 60 days before an election. Normally I’d be against such things but I think the Supreme Court should be trusted to sort it all out, especially after a couple of Bush appointments.

posted by Jeremy at 1:26 AM


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BLOGGER NOTES: Tip to new bloggers: If you use Blogger to compose posts then copy and paste the posts into Word (or some other word processing program) before you click "post" or "post and publish." You'll save yourself from generating a lot of unbridled hostility toward inanimate objects over lost posts.

posted by Jeremy at 1:24 AM


wSaturday, March 02, 2002


MONDAY: That's it for me for the night. I'm not out of ammo but I've already said more than I know - twice over. No posts tomorrow because Sunday is my day of rest, not so much for religious reasons (though there's that) but because, well, I'm tired after six days of toil. See you Monday.

posted by Jeremy at 11:57 PM


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AMERICAN PROWLER: I should have mentioned this in connection with an earlier post. Former managing editor of The American Spectator Wlady P. (you try spelling his last name without looking it up) has a new site up and running that is almost a replica (contentwise) of the late Online Spectator. It's worth a look.

posted by Jeremy at 11:51 PM


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MORE SUICIDE BOMBERS: One more son of a bitch went to meet Allah (in hell) by taking as many Jews with him as he could. The body count, at this writing, is nine. I suppose we should be thankful that it didn't kill more people: He lit himself off by a crowd that was just coming out of a synagogue. The original version of this Reason piece on suicide bombers concluded, "they may have blown up the Palestinian state in the process."

posted by Jeremy at 11:40 PM


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HE'S GOING TO DISNEYLAND?: What is David Frum going to do now? After coining the "Axis of Evil" line in President Bush's state of the union (well, half of it), after writing the definitive social history of the '70s, after almost becoming editor of The American Spectator (a narrow miss!), what's left? Go to Disneyland? Crank it out for The Weekly Standard? Return to a Conrad Black-less National Post? I thought he might be a shoe-in when Safire vacates the Jewish neoconservative ex-presidential speechwriter slot at the New York Times, but the stubborn old wordsmith probably won't give up that plum for another couple of years.

There's no polemical point to be made here. I'm honestly curious about what Frum has cooking, and why he left the White House. A mini-scandal erupted when Slate's Tim Noah leaked Danielle Frum's letter to friends boasting about her husband's authorship of the A of E line and many stupid reporters drew the conclusion that the leak-averse Bush Administration was pushing him out as payback. This overestimated the tactile sensitivity of the Administration by a staggering order of magnitude. Frum was hired in spite of the fact that he was sharply critical of Bush's pick of Cheney, calling him (if memory serves) "conservative but not a conservative" in the New York Times.

A more likely possibility (hint to enterprising reporters) might be that Frum's ideology had begun to collide with Bush's expansive pragmatism. In a column last year, I pointed out just how much of his own laissez faire streak Frum had to swallow in order to become the president's chief economic speechwriter, and that was before Bush was trying to appear a bipartisan war leader.

Bush stands poised to sign campaign finance reform, which Frum has likened unto socialism. He has muzzled any opposition to the vast expansion of that Clinton boondoggle, Americorps. The Administration is only a couple of glasses away from consummating its romance with Big Steel and imposing drastic tariffs on imports from competitors. Worse, as Peter Brimelow has pointed out in Forbes, September 11 has ushered in a new era of Big Government.

The David Frum that I knew (via his books, articles and the odd e-mail exchange) would at some point have found that too much to swallow.


posted by Jeremy at 6:39 PM


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E-CHRONICLES: Chronicles has developed a nifty truly state-of-the-art website for contributors only (so, sorry, no link), with all manner of bells and whistles, that knocked my socks off. I told assistant editor (and great guy) Aaron Wolf he no longer has any right to call himself a Luddite. "I prefer e-Luddite," he said without missing a beat.

posted by Jeremy at 4:07 PM


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WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT OF DISGRACED MINISTERS: No, this isn't about the Boston sex scandal (I'll fry that particular egg later). I have a review of Steve Martin's Leap of Faith up on Razormouth that led Kathy Shaidle to label me "a man after [her] own heart."

posted by Jeremy at 3:52 PM


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GRAHAM APOLOGIZES: Sort of. According to this story, the Rev's public relations firm released a statement which a) denied any memory of said conversation and b) apologized anyway. Something about "advanc[ing] understanding and mutual respect between our communities." Blah blah blah.

Released by his public relations firm?! Doesn't this rise to the level of one of those, oh, I dunno, stand-in-front-of-the-flashbulbs-and-brave-questions sort of offences?

Then again, a trusted advisor asked me recently what would be the result if all of my private conversations were broadcast to the world. That (gulp!) is a very sobering thought. Maybe we - that is, members in good standing of the vicious if-it-bleeds-it-leads press - should give the guy a break. He's a frail old man who's done a lot of good in his time and who has now been caught - 30 years ago - having said a very stupid, wicked thing.

Sadly, I doubt that'll be the case. I can hear the long knives being sharpened as we speak; in fact I had to fight off the impulse to draw my own dagger. But pretty soon we won't have Billy Graham to kick around anymore and then we'll have to live with ourselves.


posted by Jeremy at 3:40 PM


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LINK: Incidentally, unlike many bloggers, I'm not into this [link via] thing. But I should mention that I find Kathy Shaidle's website to be invaluable.

posted by Jeremy at 11:40 AM


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DO NOT RECALL: When it was learned several years ago that Nixon had made tapes of the conversations between him and Rev. Billy Graham, I remember words by Graham to the effect of "I really wish he wooden ah done that." That takes on new meaning with the release of a new batch of tapes in which Graham joined in on one of Nixon's frequent anti-Jewish outbursts. It's clear from what's been reported on thus far that Graham's barbs were aimed mostly at pornography and the producers thereof. But still, shouldn't he have some better explanation than I do not recall?

posted by Jeremy at 11:36 AM


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IN THE BAGGE: I suppose I should add a spoiler warning here, though the cover pretty much gives it away. I'm reviewing the sixth, and final, volume of the collections of the Hate comic book for The Stranger (check out my last Stranger review here). It has a particularly moving ending that I thought I should pass along. Buddy Bradley's on again off again girlfriend Lisa approaches him and informs Buddy, with some dread, that she's pregnant again:

Buddy: Well, we've been in this situation before, right? I mean, what's one more abortion, right? I'll gladly pay for it and... Lisa?

Lisa: I can't Buddy! I can't do it this time!

Buddy: ?!? Ya can't what? I don't -

Lisa: I've had too many abortions already, Buddy! What if I can never get pregnant again? What if -

Buddy: Whoa, wait a minute. Are you telling me you're going to have this baby?

Lisa: ...Yes >sniff<

Buddy: And then what? Raise it at your parents' house? Go on wellfare?

Lisa: Yes... or put it up for adoption... I haven't decided yet. >honk<

Buddy: NO WAY! NO FUCKING WAY! NOT WITH MY KID, YOU WON'T!

Interesting that Buddy swings from "what's one more abortion?" to "not with my kid" in less than a full page, and yet it feels true. It's a completely believable, subtle, wonderful scene, told without moralizing that most pro-lifers (of whom I am one) would have been tempted to inject into it.


posted by Jeremy at 11:13 AM


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NOW THEY GET IT: The cover story of the current Weekly Standard is a milestone, of sorts. Agressively hawkish right wingers have finally decided that Vlad Putin is somebody they can "work with," as the saying goes.

It's about bloody time. Not long ago, they were worrying how to check Russia's supposed emerging power. The more conspiratorial among them, like J.R. Nyquist, who, alas, I used to edit, were even worried that Russia was going to break out its nukes and use those babies. National Review's Rich Lowry damned the Senate Dems as "Putin Democrats."

I rarely write on foreign policy (as my friends will no doubt attest, I sure talk it about it enough though) but this is one instance where I am glad to have been on the record as saying that Vlad's our guy (here and here).

Two incidents tipped me off: 1) He proclaimed loudly before the election that he had been secretly baptized back in the Bad Old Days and that that still meant something to him; and 2) he visited a synagogue to light a Hanukah candle. Anywhere else, such actions would have been commonplace but in Russia they signaled a radical break from the past: from the secularism of Communism and from religious intolerance.

Our man indeed.

posted by Jeremy at 4:52 AM


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BLOGGER NOTES: I haven't been able to figure out how to attach links yet (any help from knowing readers is welcome) so if you want to email me, send notes to lott-at-deviantreadings.com. No promises that I'll answer every letter but I read them all and usually try to write something back.

posted by Jeremy at 3:05 AM


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THAT'S NOT FUNNY!: Yes I think this open letter to Ann Coulter (by Chris Mooney) is hilarious. Mooney is far and away the brightest light at The American Prospect (and I'm not just saying that because he promoted my column on book burning). If they ever can him, I'm dropping my subscription.

posted by Jeremy at 3:00 AM


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POOR SPENCER REISS: He is by most accounts a decent journalist and a nice guy, the obligatory oxymoron notwithstanding. But after stints at Newsweek and Wired, he got sucked into the Gilder vortex. In order to transform The American Spectator into a right wing Wired, he has to a) restore the credibility that the previous management pissed away and b) restore the good will that his immediate predecessor pissed away. That's a lot of piss to clean up on a shoestring budget.

His prospects appear to be getting worse, not better. The Spectator has shed pages and staff. Last march, it had seven senior editors. Now it has one. The layout, several editors have told me, stinks. The famous book review section has gone the way of the dodo bird, replaced by mostly asinine book excerpts. The newsstand distribution now moves at a molasses pace. Worse, Reiss has been forced to (or suicidally chosen to) rely upon way too much reprint material. The current issue, for instance, features articles by Michael Kelly, John Strausbaugh and John Tierney, but all three could be had for free, via the web, from their original publishers. Even the brief, exclusive Tom Wolfe essay fails to justify the elephantine $6.95 cover price.

And what is with the lack of a web presence for the Spectator? I understand that George Gilder has made most of his money off limited circulation newsletters but this is a general interest magazine (OK, a general interest magazine with an eye toward right wing techno geeks, but still); its mother's milk is buzz and readership. It has no more buzz. The last time the Spectator briefly re-entered the consciousness of the chattering class was the brilliant postmortem (linked above) published in the Atlantic. It isn't good sign when it takes an obituary to get people talking. Certain people still read the Spectator but nobody - and I mean nobody - is excited about it anymore. And I'm betting that many less people are not excited about it. Gilder didn't just ease up subscription rates, he launched them. Any editor will tell you that "sticker shock" can be a bit of a bitch but I can't wait to see the obligatory circulation disclosure when it rolls around this year. Best bet: This time, she'll have been particularly nasty.

As things stand, I give the The American Spectator nine months - tops.

There is one upside to this whole fiasco for Reiss. If he can pull it out of its nosedive, that is. He will branded a miracle worker on the order of Hani the circle drawer. And he'll be able to name his own price


posted by Jeremy at 2:47 AM


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IRONIC FORTUNE COOKIE?: "You've got a way with words, maximize on it."

posted by Jeremy at 12:54 AM


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OK, HERE GOES SOMETHING: I figure everybody and his aunt is now blogging and so I might as well jump on that particular bandwagon. My name is Jeremy Lott - no relation to the Senate minority leader or the economist; or Ronnie. I've edited a variety of publications in the past including The American Partisan (when it was still a happening publication) and, until recently Spintech (which is still, on a good day, happening). My work has appeared in a couple dozen publications from National Review to Linguafranca to Reason to Seattle's The Stranger. My interests are legion, so it almost might be easier to list what I'm not interested in. The site is called Jeremiads for reasons that should make themselves abundantly clear in the coming weeks and months.

posted by Jeremy at 12:41 AM