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Youth Is Served

What makes Tom Wolfe so young? Also: A conservative paradigm? Neighborly Mexico. Plus much more.

5.19.06

COMMITTING IRONY IN PUBLIC
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Tom Wolfe -- Aha!:

I am confused by the words and phrases that Mr. Tyrrell used to describe the author Tom Wolfe. Young/youth was used five times, along with the phrases "still a pup," "puts on a few years," and "verve of his years," which were sprinkled through the article. Mr. Tyrrell credits Mr. Wolfe with writing three novels.

Given that the author Thomas Kennerly Wolfe (a.k.a. Tom Wolfe) was born on 2 March 1931 in Richmond, Virginia, and that R. (Robert) Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. was born sometime in 1943, it seems odd that the 62/63 year old Mr. Tyrrell would frequently describe the 75-year-old Mr. Wolfe a young man.

Many people credit Mr. Wolfe with inventing the "New Journalism" style of writing in his article about the hot rod and custom car culture of Southern California that was published in Esquire Magazine in 1963. A partial list of his published books include:
- The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965)
- The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)
- The Pump House Gang (1968)
- Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (1970)
- The Painted Word (1975)
- Mauve Gloves and Madmen, Clutter and Vine (1976)
- The Right Stuff (1979)
- In Our Time (1980)
- From Bauhaus to Our House (1981)
- The Purple Decades (1982)
- The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987)
- A Man in Full (1998)
- Hooking Up (2000)
- I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004)

I remain confused by Mr. Tyrrell's choice of words.
-- Newt Love
Annapolis, Maryland

How old must R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. be to be calling 75-year-old Wolfe "young"?

I'm three years younger. What does that make me? A toddler? Well, I do a little of that but I assure you, it's not because I'm so young.
-- Ron Lutz

I'm puzzled by your reference to Tom Wolfe as a "young literary talent." According to Wikipedia, Tom Wolfe is 76 years old. I have been an admirer of his work ever since he skewered Leonard Bernstein's Black Panther fundraising party in the 1960s.

"Thomas Kennerly 'Tom' Wolfe (born March 2, 1930) is an American author and journalist, best known as one of the founders of the new journalism."
-- Alan P.
Los Angeles, California

What is this constant referring to Tom Wolfe as young? The man is 76 years old. I have been reading his books for 35 years. I assume that there must be some tongue-in-cheek point to your comments.
-- Steve Berry
San Jose, California

In his article "Tom Wolfe -- Aha!" Mr. Tyrrell keeps referring to Tom Wolfe as the "young" writer. Mr. Wolfe was born in 1931, which makes him 75 years old. What exactly is Mr. Tyrrell trying to communicate to the masses? Personally, I hope Mr. Wolfe stays alive for a long time so that he can write many more great books.
-- Rowe Sergent
Tempe, Arizona

I have read every book Mr. Wolfe has written, started in the '60s, with the exception of I Am Charlotte Simmons. Just haven't got around to that one yet.

The man's use of language, ability to enter into and see the world he is writing about is just beyond description.

And the worlds he enters! Truly a Renaissance man. Compare and contrast A Man in Full with Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. TAS readers, if you haven't read Tom Wolfe you're missing out on a true American sociologist and one of the finest humorists since Mark Twain.

A full menu awaits; art, architecture, astronauts, custom cars, surfing, the counter culture, hippies, business, radical chic, Black Panthers, buffoons, and bozos, and more. Americana in all its glory and absurdity. Treat yourself to a tasty morsel or sumptuous feast!

Heck, I love the man, even bought a white double breasted suit back in the '70s. His trademark.

And don't let the fact that he lives in New York put you off; he's a Virginian by birth. I think it's that Southern breeding that makes him so erudite and urbane.
-- Jim Woodward
Fruitland, Maryland

Oh, dear, I wish Tom Wolfe was a "young writer" so we could enjoy him for years to come. Unfortunately, he's well into his 70s by now.

Thanks for the update on him, though.
-- unsigned

WHAT CONSERVATIVE PROGRESS?
Re: Jeffrey Lord's The Conservative Victory in 2006:

In his recent article, "The Conservative Victory in 2006," Jeffrey Lord makes a compelling historical case that the dominant liberal paradigm that arose under FDR continued to thrive under Truman, despite the Republican takeover of Congress in 1946. He makes a far less compelling case that there is a dominant conservative paradigm in existence today, or that it will survive the much-feared (but probably exaggerated) Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006.

Interestingly, what does Mr. Lord identify as the major elements of the previous liberal paradigm? "[A] massive housing program, aid to education, health care, support for farmers, an increase in the minimum wage, and more civil rights legislation." Does any of this sound familiar? It should, because it still reflects the heart of the domestic political agenda: public housing programs and massive government subsidies of the private housing industry, an ever-increasing federal role in primary and secondary education, the ever-expanding reach of Medicare and related health insurance programs (steadily moving towards socialized medicine), continued wasteful agricultural subsidies and special-interest legislation of all types (recall the "bridge to nowhere"), a constant push to raise the minimum incomes of lower wage earners (whether through minimum wage laws or tax subsidies), and, always, more and more "rights" and "affirmative action" for women, racial and ethnic minorities, and now sexual minorities (see recent Supreme Court decisions on homosexual sodomy and affirmative action in college admissions).

All this despite the so-called "conservative" revolution of 1980.

For all intents and purposes, in 25 years conservatism has accomplished only two goals, albeit extremely important ones: reducing tax rates and strengthening the military. These gains largely were achieved by Ronald Reagan, and have been maintained, more or less, by succeeding Republican presidents. But that's it.

We have achieved no meaningful successes in the "culture wars." Abortion on demand is still the law of the land. Scofflaws like Ward Churchill still dominate our universities. Our artistic culture continues to be characterized by immaturity, smut, violence, and cheap anti-American propaganda. Personal responsibility in matters sexual, familial, and financial is still appalling low. Religion (or rather, traditional, Christian religion) is on the defensive in this country, indeed more so than ever.

We have achieved no significant liberalization of the economy. Federal, state, and local regulations continue to pile up, choking entrepreneurship, innovation, and even greater wealth creation. Our domestic energy industry is completely stagnant. A proliferation of labor and employment laws makes the workplace increasingly acrimonious and inflexible. Outrageous tort laws (especially in the areas of products liability and medical malpractice) routinely punish industries that employ thousands of workers and generate billions of dollars, all for the enrichment of a handful of lawyers. The hysteria over global warming and "the environment" continues to build, and will provide a ready justification for even more regulations in the future.

We have not significantly slowed the post-1960s multicultural juggernaut that is eroding American culture and fragmenting the nation into separate groups, regions, and peoples. One symptom of the paramountcy of multiculturalism is the unwillingness of our elected leaders to secure our borders and impose reasonable controls on immigration, despite the backing of the majority of the country for such measures. The recent, and ongoing, demonstrations by illegal immigrants and their supporters does not portend a positive future for this country. Bush's immigration plan promises only more of the same.

And the list goes on and on.

So where is this "conservative paradigm" of which Mr. Lord speaks? While we have some conservative-oriented politicians, who occasionally pass some conservative-oriented legislation, the truth is that on the truly big issues, America is still in the grip of the liberal paradigm that came into existence under FDR. Unless and until conservatives, and Republicans, start fighting for their country and culture with the same unyielding vehemence that the Left has pushed for its agenda for the past 40 years, America will continue down the same liberal path leading to socialism at home, weakness abroad, and the end of both the American Dream and the American Century.
-- Steven M. Warshawsky
New York, New York

If Republicans lose in 2006 the conservative movement loses even bigger. This is what's wrong with so many tunnel vision conservatives -- the delusional thinking that losing is winning. Does anyone really believe the Democrats won't work feverishly to re-entrench their majority after these last few years in the wilderness? This is the party that dominated Congress for half a century and they're not going to take a chance at being out of power again if they can help it. The fix will be in if the Democrats take power in 2006 along with tax increases, immigration legislation that makes Reagan's 1986 amnesty and immediate citizenship for millions of illegal aliens look conservative and national security is left to the likes John "Cut & Run" Murtha.

For that matter why should any Republican trust a movement so infatuated with losing? If the Republicans lose in 2006 the biggest loser will be the conservative movement as Republican politicians begin to embrace the "moderate" banner and John McCain becomes the anointed in 2008. What's Jeffrey Lord's favorite song -- Happy Days are Here Again?
-- Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

Jeffrey Lord's foray into American political history is interesting, but I think he oversimplifies "paradigm" a little. What happened to the conservative Goldwater-Reagan-Bush paradigm during the more liberal Johnson-Carter-Clinton periods? Do paradigms go into remission, like cancer? Also, I didn't know that there was a "liberal paradigm of high taxes, illegal immigration, appeasement, and judicial activism." This makes it sound as if the Democratic National Committee is anxiously waiting in the wings to increase taxes, open the borders, kowtow to rogue nations, and promote radical judges. I think not. The Clinton years gave us balanced budgets, didn't they?

There may in fact be some similarity between Truman's tenacity and that of George W. Bush. But if Dan Quayle is no Jack Kennedy, neither is George W. Bush a Harry Truman. The current President has serious "stature" issues.

Mr. Lord should be thankful to those liberals who made possible an American conservative utopia: the 1950s.
-- Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois

Mr. Lord has written a wonderful column, full of good political analysis and good common sense. There is, however, one minor problem. The elected elite in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate and the White House are not listening. There is a clear plurality for promotion and passage of liberal and liberal leaning, big government solutions, consistent with the paradigm that President Truman was working with.

I remember Harry Truman, and George Bush is no Harry Truman. Truman had steel in his spine. He thought nothing of taking on the press and calling out reporters by name. He was reflexively partisan, and made sure that all knew it. He was of the opinion that the ONLY good Republicans were the ones that voted his way, and he said so. The only folks that George Bush feels comfortable standing up against are the conservatives that worked their tails off and got him elected. If Vicente Fox and other Mexican officials had said the things we hear today back when Harry Truman was POTUS, the American response would have been quite different and there would be no mistaking the meaning. Ask Gen. MacArthur about it.

It occurs to me that George Bush really doesn't like conservatives and resents having to put up with them in order to get elected. He certainly is quick to call us sexist (Harriet Miers), vigilantes (Minutemen), heartless, and uncaring (us secure the borders folks), etc. Bush seems much more comfortable making nice to the Dems and libs that are trying to get him impeached than trying to placate his conservative supporters.

As for Congress, the Dems leaders issue orders to the rank-and-file congressmen and senators and get 95 percent or better compliance. If an elected Dem doesn't like what Senator Reid or Rep. Pelosi decide, they merely shut up and do as they are told. On the GOP side, the Senate especially is lousy with RINOs that are nothing but Dem moles in the GOP caucus. I would submit Sens. Chafee, Snowe, Collins, and Specter as a starter list in that category. Then there are the senators who are so enamored with their own importance that they are in a party all their own. I would submit Sens. McCain, Hagel, Warner, and Graham as a starter list. Then we have Senators like DeWine and Voinovich who are either spineless or insane or both. I haven't mentioned individual representatives because, there are so many more of them, that I didn't want to start down that road.

Yes, I believe that Mr. Lord is right in his analysis of the preferred paradigm of the majority of Americans. Unfortunately, too many of the politicians aren't listening and too many voters are too busy living their lives to hold the pols accountable at the polls on Election Day. Too many average Americans also do not care enough to actually parse the speeches of the pols and the wording of polls to see what is really being said or asked. Those of us who come to this web site daily know what is being said and done, but we have a greater than average interest in the whole political arena. We are NOT the majority of voters at the polls on Election Day. Also, the liberal political enthusiasts are just as dedicated as we are and work just as hard to counter our efforts.

I am not sanguine about seeing and celebrating a true, winning, consistent conservative paradigm in my lifetime.
-- Ken Shreve

I don't think Rush Limbaugh's audience numbers make for a very good indicator of conservative political performance. About half the voters opted for Al Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. Those were not liberal Republican politicians shy about an agenda of socialism. Those were the American spokesmen for Marxism-Leninism. A vast swath of America has been stewed into socialism. America's socialists are not just the radical gray-haired members of the Jerry Garcia set, nor are they only the little noodle-necked twits from college campi and coffee shops.

America's socialists are also a large number of middle American ignorant populists who are the products of government-run education and liberal media. They are people who really believe that oil companies are secretly meeting to conspire in order to raise the price of gas in order to fleece the little guy. These are people who really believe that drug companies are evil and wicked because their products cost a lot of money. These are people who think that most wealthy people got that way by stealing. These are Americans who don't know what a supply curve is, don't know what a demand curve is, don't know what the two houses of Congress are, don't have any more than the foggiest idea what is in the Constitution, and, more importantly, don't care.

Professional politicians in the United States have succeeded in rebranding socialism for the American market. It is no longer red banners and hammers and sickles. It is no longer about peasants and workers rising up against the capitalist oppressor. It is sold now in red, white and blue, with calls for "rights" to things like free health care, school lunches, subsidized gasoline and heating oil, jobs, and (I'm not making this up) digital television. Wake up. Since 1997, the most free market on earth has been in a tiny little place that is technically part of Red China! The United States is not what it could have been. America has a problem and it isn't small, either. If we don't reverse this thing we're going to become France.
-- unsigned

I believe the latest word used on MSNBC's Hardball regarding Republicans in 2006 was "apocalyptic." I hardly think this is the time to be grand standing for the party. This party needs to get over our delusions of grandeur and start thinking of concrete ways to turn Iraq around. It has been and continues to be the single driving force that will drive our party right into the ground. Enough is enough already. It's bad enough we have a President who would rather dine on burritos than make a stand on our borders. Now we have to watch him steer the ship under. Get out of the clouds Mr. Lord -- the ship is sinking with this fool at the helm.
-- unsigned

ELECTRIFY THE FENCE
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Border Boarder:

Thanks to Jay Homnick for another brilliant article... "Bottom line, they have no legitimate claim on us to continue forfeiting our rights. They should count themselves lucky that we never bestirred ourselves to legitimate self-defense in the past." And his joint border patrol might work.
-- G. Klecan

Generally I enjoy Mr. Homnick's articles and this one started out well but the close was pure rubbish! Mexico does not need for the U.S. to induce it to patrol its own border; they can do so at their own volition. Your proposal is like suggesting to your neighbor he mow his lawn knowing full well that the husband of the household is not willing to fix the mower. All you get out of that suggestion is a ticked neighbor and a domestic violence filing at the local police station.

The facts as you put so well, Mexico profits by the current situation. Like the old adage "follow the money," the current government gains in two ways. They gain by their own version of foreign exchange by the several billion a year that is sent back to Mexico. They also gain by exporting their social ills elsewhere so that it does not have to be addressed by the central government. Given that knowledge, what inducement other than shame would Mexico wish to do joint patrols with the U.S.? I suggest none from an economic viewpoint.

Then there is the issue of would we want to? Consider that in cities like Laredo Nuevo the police are almost nonexistent; having gone through three chiefs of police in as many years. The drug cartels run the town. You want THAT to be coordinating with U.S. forces? You might as well give the druggies maps of our positions. I have a better solution. We tell Mexico they have a year to clean up every border town along the U.S.-Mexican border. If at the end of that year they have not, we the U.S. will. We will send in armed squads, tanks and APCs. Yes, Vicente, Fox we will do a Black Jack Pershing on you. Pick your poison.

That is what needs to be said and done, Mr. Homnick.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

Giving Mexico a carrot to cooperate with U.S. border initiatives would be like giving a drug addict clean needles to just say no.

We have a President who for the last six years has all but offered to wipe Mexico's backside so they would cooperate. This President has put forward amnesty offers coupled with a National Guard soldier contingent that would do anything but function as a soldier contingent. What is the response from Mexico? Send in the lawyers!

Would it be asking too much if somehow Mexico's government could ask what they could do to help the situation instead of the U.S. government asking them what they could do to help? No, of course not.

Again, whatever this country does to protect its interests is met with a blue-state, it's-me-not-you attitude. We must be careful not to embarrass the corrupt government of Mexico because they might not cooperate with us. They don't send back cop killers, don't cooperate or cooperate very little with us on the terror war, refuse to clean up their drug running corrupt military but do facilitate illegal border crossings by publishing helpful comic books and blustering about how we need them.

The only thing Mexico's military would do at the border is act as spotters of our guards for the illegals. When will anybody feel our pain?

If I were Franklin's father I would have said: "Of course I'm proud that you invented electricity. Now go electrify the fence and go to bed!"
-- Diamon Sforza
Chicago, Illinois

The problem with this thinking of putting Mexican cops on their side to protect the border is forgetting that they can be bought. If you think drug money is not going into their hands everyday to look the other way, I have some swamp land in Texas to sell you.
-- Elaine Kyle

The wealthy and powerful in Mexico are outsourcing their political instability to the U.S. The people coming here, if forced to stay in Mexico, would cause a rebellion to overthrow the political establishment there. Like Sheriff Bart in "Blazing Saddles" threat to kill himself, they blackmail us with the fear a Hugo Chavez-type Mexico if we stop the illegals. The answer in the long run has to be a change in the corrupt system in Mexico. Short term we should call their bluff. Given the choice of ending the corruption or hanging from lampposts I think they will take the right choice.

As I wrote in April this year: People from bad places will "vote with their feet" and move to a better place even if it is difficult to do so. The problem is that people want to leave Mexico not that they are attracted here. Pressure in some form must be brought to bear on Mexico to change so that their citizens will want to stay there not move here. Right now Mexico is benefiting from the money illegals are sending back. This has to change or they will continue to encourage the illegal immigration. Perhaps a tax on remittances to pay for border security and other costs of illegal immigration?
-- Geoff Bowden
Battle Creek, Michigan

Mr. Homnick, I truly despair for your tonsorial outcomes. If the barber messes up once, it is a mistake. If he messes up the same way a second time, you not only do not tip him, you never go back there again. Before you can offer Mexico a face-saving compromise, you must first get their undivided attention. At this point, may I suggest a 2x4 upside the head to get that undivided attention.

REMEMBER THE ALAMO -- BUSH REFUSES TO!!!
-- Ken Shreve

COFFER FILLING
Re: James Bowman's review of Giuliani Time:

A lot has been made of the notion that shutting down turnstile jumping, etc., had nothing to do with lower rates of murder, robbery, etc., during Guiliani's tenure. Even if that is true, isn't collecting fare from all subway riders a good idea, in and of itself?
-- Ty Knoy
Ann Arbor, Michigan

TO THE GREATER GLORY
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Truth and Hollywood:

No doubt, the Da Vinci Code will be an end-times, worldwide phenomenon. But this should not put Christians in a panic mode -- because God will use the whole matter to benefit His Kingdom.

The controversy will give pseudo-intellectual pretenders in the church a very hip and popular reason to deny the deity of Christ, and it will expose many of the more radically, liberal churches as nothing more than religious cults; not a bit better than David Koresh. (They went out from us, because they were not of us. 1 John 2:19)

The end result will be a leaner, stronger, more unified church. God is always in control.
-- Mike Sutton
Dallas, Texas

I don't normally go around telling people that the sky is blue, but in this case it seems necessary. Could someone please tell Lisa Fabrizio and Russell Seitz that The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction. The TV show South Park makes the "assertion" that Jesus is alive and is the host of a local access cable TV talk show. Perhaps you two would like to debate that as well. And...go.
-- Chuck Lazarz
Reading, Pennsylvania

Ms. Fabrizio is confusing a "church," which anyone could refer to at any time after the death of Jesus with organized Christianity which floundered for some three centuries. It had no prestige, nor wealth; it was proscribed and persecuted. Constantine gave it that social cachet. The Council of Nicea around 325 set up the divinity of Jesus by vote, and certainly from that moment forward the Arians could be purged from the ranks and lesser aberrations addressed, and unceremoniously, also. Constantine's purpose was political, not religious, and saw that it could be a useful instrument for keeping people docile under absolutism. As to the Gospels, they are very touching stories and poetic, their aim is not to record facts but to conjure up entrancing impossibilities, to paraphrase Mencken. To quote Mencken further, "The story of Jesus is the sempitenal Cinderella story, lifted to cosmic dimensions. Beside it the best that you will find in the sacred literature of Moslem and Brahman, Parsee and Buddhist, seems flat, stale and unprofitable."
-- Edward Del Colle

STAY THE COURSE
Re: Quin Hillyer's Bush May Succeed After All:

Quin Hillyer's piece is brave, against all the currents, and brilliantly argued. Bravo! (Furthermore, I agree!)
-- Michael Novak

I really enjoy his writing and insight. But in yesterday's article about how Bush can get his mojo back, Quin's final suggestion about Colin Powell leading a great battle/charge in Iraq is fanciful.

Gen. Powell was a product of Washington and was not a true commander. If it had been up to Powell, #41 would never have kicked Saddam out of Kuwait in '91, and Powell and a good number of generals in the Pentagon would still be discussing how to invade Afghanistan and get rid of the Taliban in 2006. His excuse of overwhelming force (the Powell Doctrine) is a joke and a way to avoid doing anything with the military. Five hundred thousand troops at minimum and bomb from on high. He is a creature of Washington politics and always plays it safe to protect himself. I'm not a fan!
-- Karen McCullough
Huntsville, Alabama

As an unapologetic conservative Bush (43) Republican I appreciate Quin Hillyer's excellent article, but the truth is the conservatives like to implode too. I remember the 1986, 1992, and 2000 elections where too many on the right threw temper tantrums over one issue and gave the Democrats power or at least more power to thwart any and all conservative ideas.

If conservatives don't realize immigration is only one issue then they can kiss appointing another conservative to the bench goodbye, run up the white flag to terrorists and bend over and grab their ankles, because the Democrats are going to ram through a massive tax increase and override the President's sure veto (unlike Reagan who gave in to tax increases Bush won't).
-- Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

TELCO COMPETITION
Re: The Prowler's Internet Nationalization:

Hey, I saw your Prowler story on Google, MoveOn and network neutrality - the term actually isn't "Internet neutrality." I cover this stuff as a trade reporter in D.C. and though the concept is a little hazy, both the telcos/cable and Internet companies agree that the main issue is how much control the network operators have over their networks, and whether they can make deals to provide better delivery service to some firms for a price -- which implicates their offering of advanced services, but not whether they can do it. Basically -- can AT&T give its own video service preferential treatment over that offered (eventually) by Google, since AT&T owns the pipes, or can it give priority to certain applications like VoIP over others? It's accurate to say that net neutrality supporters generally want Internet regulation that parallels phone regulation, but not that they want to prevent the incumbents from offering competing services.
-- Greg Piper

CHRISTIANS SLIGHTED
Re: Christopher Orlet's Missive From a Madman:

Just a question regarding the rambling nonsense from the current loony in charge of Iran. He refers to Jesus Christ as a prophet. How dare he insult Christians everywhere by denying that Jesus was the son of God? Why aren't Christians everywhere rioting, burning and punishing the unbelievers? Oh, I forgot, we're civilized people.
-- Chris Buckley

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