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Judge Not

The pros and cons of metro-conservatism. Having a gaz with Russia. Also: Leaking suspicions. Spy tries. And more.

1.4.06

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STOP McCAIN, VOTE GOP
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Welfare for Republicans:

Lisa Fabrizio hits both nails on the head. I'm not overly enthusiastic about either McCain or Rudy. While both men have some positives, in my opinion both have committed some political cardinal sins. McCain's are pretty obvious: campaign finance "reform," the Gang of 14 filibuster deal (featuring the Republican Stupid Seven), and the recent torture ban. I could go on, but my fingers don't have the stamina required to type out everything wrong with McCain. Rudy's social issues are troubling, but I could overlook them. My main beef with him is his demonstrated lack of commitment to fiscal responsibility, specifically his opposition to the presidential line item veto. He led the charge to get it declared unconstitutional in the '90s. It would take one hell of an explanation from him to sway me on this one.
-- Scott Warren

Lisa, add another twist to your story. No one is discussing this: No matter who the Republican nominee is, behind the scenes the Clintons will find another Ross Perot to split the Republican vote, and it's hello Commander-in-Chief Hillary! She'll get her 42% from the base no matter what. McCain is the perfect candidate to split the republican vote, but any nominee will do if they can triangulate with a third party candidate. (I still think the Clintons were behind Ross Perot running for pres.)
-- John P.
Elmhurst, Illinois

My, what fun the next two years are going to be for the Democrats and MSM, while us dumb Republicans run around in circles like a pack of mice looking for the food bowl. McCain is sure not my bowl of food and as much as I like Mr. Cheney, I am afraid of his heart problems. If you are into politics this is going to be interesting.
-- Elaine Kyle

As straight-ticket Reagan-Bush (43) conservatives if John McCain is the party's nominee in 2008 we plan to vote for all Republicans down ticket and just ignore the presidential race. We don't fear Hillary or any Democrat that much. Our motto is, "Stop McCain Vote Republican!"
-- Michael & Rhonda Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

METROCONTRADICTIONS
Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge's Right-Wingtips:

You really waste space on this pompous prig?
-- Lee Rodgers
KSFO, San Francisco

I wanted to have some empathy, an inkling of sympathy for Mr. Judge, but I'm sorry, I'm just laughing way too hard.

When did TAS open a "vanity" column?

Well, thank you (and you, Mr. Judge) for my first belly laugh and sardonic head shake of 2006.
-- Chris Rifino
Corpus Christi, Texas

I, too, dislike Gretchen Wilson's song and NASCAR. Also, I am conservative enough to understand that Bill O'Reilly is a populist and not a conservative. In addition to my dislike of celebrations of ignorance and worship of the mob, I also dislike effete, soul-less, pretentious posturing such as that celebrated by Mr. Judge. Sounds like he would have been quite at home in the party of Rockefeller.
-- Chris Lindsey

In "Another Perspective" dated 1/4/2006, Mark Gauvreau Judge shared his very low opinion of Gretchen Wilson, modern conservatism, NASCAR and all the people who enjoy it, Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Christians who disagree with him and, of course, the President of the United States. He even trashed some conservatives as reading Theology for Dummies.

What a sad, sad man Mr. Judge is. In his terminal narcissism he actually thinks he is qualified to judge people he considers to be his inferiors. I'm sure his pathetic and diseased personality can only feel good about his own life by feeling superior to someone.

Ironically, the people who represent the things he truly cannot stand about modern conservatism, the people who defend things he considers "dumb, tacky, and second-rate," aren't affected by Mr. Judge's little intellectual tantrum. They will continue to "work hard, go to church and play by the rules" as they did before and as they will continue to do long after Mark Gauvreau Judge's words have been judged insignificant.
-- Gary Boatright

I've always liked Mark Gauvreau Judge's work, but I find at least part of his central thesis about the superiority of being a metrocon questionable and maybe even objectionable. While I agree that there is nothing to celebrate about being tacky or willfully ignorant (which I'm not sure his target group really is), I disagree vigorously that the "second growth" of spirituality involves learning how to purchase and wear the right clothing and accessories. Natty apparel has never been a sign of spiritual maturity as far as I can tell. Were it so the fashionistas would be the deepest folk on earth.

It is one thing to argue that many of today's conservatives don't hold a candle to William F. Buckley on style points (surely, they do not), but to conflate that point with spiritual maturity and depth evokes a Christianity of which I'm not aware. Certainly, a preference for Brooks Brothers over Wal-Mart does little to inform one about the nobility of a particular soul. In fact, the good book might make the opposite case.
-- Hunter Baker
Contributor to The Reform Club
Athens, Georgia

In the article "Right-Wingtips," as usual, the author comes off as a slightly snobby Northeasterner. He has obviously not spent much time in Texas. And yes, while I grant his point to some extent, down here in San Antonio it's a matter of a different style. Starched jeans, and starched shirts along with a nice Stetson or Resistol hat is considered excellent attire to go along with your Ostrich boots. And while the grunge look still is common, many people in Texas add some starch to those Wranglers, and that nice shirt. Again snotty Northeasterners have no right telling the rest of us what to wear to look like a metrosexual (a silly thing to be in the first place).

And while born in 1960, and still fond of my Rock music, yes, I do own Classical music, which I rather enjoy from time to time. And the author and I share one trait, we both loathe Country music.
-- Robert E. Murphy
San Antonio, Texas

I hope Mark Gauvreau Judge finds a lovely wife and that they are blessed with many children. He's going to make a great dad. Although "metrocon" is a funny word, Mr. Judge is really just talking about becoming a father. When you have kids, you're forced to clean up your act. No foul language. Clean clothes. Well groomed hair and nails. An organized life with bills paid and meals neatly eaten. These are necessities, not options, with a large family. Those of us who want to raise civilized adults out of the hilarious savages who are delivered into our care are forced to become genteel, quiet-spoken, mannered parents. Those who eschew parenthood can remain uncultured brutes forever. Too many of them, sadly, do.
-- Bonnie Ramthun
Erie, Colorado

Where I come from wearing Brooks Brothers or Ray-Bans means you really don't know how to do much. You don't wear Brooks Brothers while working on a $150,000 piece of machinery such as a combine. You don't call an illegal immigrant to do your lawn or clean your house, you do it yourself. As for the "Arts," I have access to the Little Theatre on the Square twelve miles from my home. It has had Broadway shows with semi-famous actors for fifty years and I have gone exactly twice. I cannot stand grown people dressing up and in pretend land in some hokey piece of crap. I got over that at about age twelve. We can and do clean up pretty good when we have to. Being a metrocon isn't close to being a snob. In your case you are a snot. That "t" was a typo but I think it fits.
-- Patricia Cole
Illinois

Metrocon? Here I am at 58 just thinking I've been nothing but a rather well rounded individual for all these years and now here I am stuck with a label?

Let's see. Post-graduate degree, appreciate fine art, classical music, good books (a few signed by WFB), good conversation and when it's called for, the uniform, which down here is blue blazer, cotton khakis and a rep tie. All of my dress shirts are button down and my suits Glen Plaid or banker's stripe. No wingtips, just quality slip-ons. No T-shirts, just polos.

Gosh darn it, I do have this dark side though. NASCAR is OK, Ol' Waylon is great, and so is Mr. Cash. Vintage American muscle cars are treats on wheels. Jeff Foxworthy and his Blue Collar buddies make me howl! I love meeting and talking to people from all walks of life: you just never no what you might learn. When I'm on the road I always find the locals hang out to eat in. Around town nothing beats comfortable jeans (I don't do rips) or shorts with a sweatshirt or polo and boat shoes.

Let's just say I'm comfortable in my own skin and it's Red over Blue for the most part for me any day of the week. And please, save the label for someone else.
-- Jim Woodward
Fruitland, Maryland

Mr. Judge may believe that he's just a conservative metrosexual, but in actuality, he's just another newly minted proud snob (or at least thinks he is) and wants everybody else to know it. I'm so sorry that the common-man culture is such an embarrassment to him. Perhaps he needs to spend more time with "sophisticates," like Gore Vidal, who lavishes away in sunny Italy while the sons and daughters of Wal-Mart shoppers die in Iraq to preserve his pampered life style. Mr. Judge needs to spent less time in the venues of banality, which he claims to abhor, and more time in venues like TAS that publish his solipsism. I find it amazing that Mr. Judge writes this nonsense in the very publication that demonstrates the fallacy of his arguments on a daily basis. If Mr. Judge were to remove his Ray-Bans long enough to read TAS and other conservative publications, he just might be cowed by the level of sophistication demonstrated by writers and readers alike. Frankly, I find it insulting to even have to refute Mr. Judge's trite observations, so I won't bother, except to say, that while perhaps some NASCAR aficionados might not know who Rigoletto's daughter is, they do know the things that make America great, Reader's Digest version notwithstanding.
-- A. DiPentima

Mr. Judge's NASCAR analogy falls flat when you consider how the sophisticated consider Formula I racing, which is after all a bunch of foreigners making left and right turns. Also, a lot of people don't have to shop at Wal-Mart, but they choose to, which leaves them more disposable income to buy books and such.
-- Mary McLemore
Pike Road, Alabama

If you are young and not a liberal, you have no heart.
If you are old and not a conservative, you have no mind.

--Winston Churchill

If you are middle-aged and not a metrocon, you have no irrelevance, pointlessness and unnecessaryness.
-- Allen Hurt

This writer sounds like a relatively young person. I think it is to his credit that he made a switch from left to somewhere on the right. It also sounds like he made several transformations at the same time. He will be criticized for much of what he says, which sometimes sounds somewhat jejune and unfortunately echoes the false alternative thinking he criticizes in the NASCAR types. He should not be chased away from conservatism by those who do not do unto others, and the crassness (crudeness) he shrinks from will not look like what it seems when it is spoken with simplicity and grace. Members of the political right have to learn to cut some slack for those with courage who have turned their intellectual backs to their liberal pasts. If it shouldn't matter to him what others wear, eat or listen to, it shouldn't matter to others either. Welcome him, smile at his youth and congratulate him on his integrity.
-- Karen Klausmsyer
Germany

I'd like to thank Mr. Judge for a very cleverly illuminating article. However, I would argue the case that conservatives can and have always had a better understanding and appreciation of classic Western civilization at its best (i.e. the fine arts). In the assumption that metrosexuals who aren't metrocons are liberal, I would hazard to write that metrosexuals (nurtured with a leveling philosophy of equivalence, conscious or otherwise) have actually been very successful at co-opting an attraction to aesthetic beauty, often by and oblivious to the vice they mistakenly level at metrocons: snobbery.

For the true metrocon, it isn't snobbery at all but an internal capacity, desire and willingness to make distinctions in value regarding one's own taste. The metrosexual certainly has the ability to make such distinctions, as well, but often either doesn't or does for narcissistic reasons (e.g. the metrosexual monopoly on fads or John Kerry's campaign claim of fascination with rap and hip-hop music). The metrocon is often simply averse to the overt glorification of mediocrity (apologies to Peter Shaffer's depiction of Antonio Salieri, who was a fine composer).

Historically, a metrocon by Mr. Judge's definition hasn't had to live in a cosmopolitan or urban environment to exercise an aesthetic understanding and appreciation, either. Many conservative agrarian gentlemen in our nation's history come to mind. It's unfortunate that many metrosexuals think anyone living beyond city limits can't appreciate certain things (impersonal crowds and traffic?) but I won't agonize over it while I'm sipping my single-malt scotch, listening to my Dvorak and reading my Palladio (the beer is in the fridge, the bluegrass is on-deck and the catalogs are in the bathroom).
-- Jim Swords
Yorktown, Virginia

Thank you to Mark Gauvreau Judge for his insightful piece, "Right Wingtips."

What is the female equivalent of a conservative metrosexual? Well, that's me. I cringe when I hear praise of the right-wing common man. If only he weren't so common!

The biggest hurdle to turning blue-staters into red-staters is the image of the latter as uncouth, vulgar, and ignorant. We face a lot of work if we are ever to change that image and interest the next generation in the body of conservative intellectual thought.
-- Debbie Symanovich
San Francisco, California

Great article. Frankly I have always thought NR -- and The American Spectator -- could use a style section which addresses things like the decline and resurgence of Brooks Brothers. Many of us would find this interesting and of course the MSM isn't interested in the really important cultural matters.
-- Samuel E. Clark, Esq.
Omaha, Nebraska

In "Right-Wingtips," author Mark Gauvreau Judge mourns that too many of us red-staters are slobs. We dress down, follow NASCAR, shop at Wal-Mart, and listen to country music. We laugh at blue-collar humor, prefer football to baseball, and put up Christmas lights. Sorry... NOT! While Mr. Judge is welcome to his metrocon lifestyle, I offer here a defense of the burbocons, the suburban/rural mothers and fathers who comprise the bulk of conservatives:

Our lives are organized around our families, rather than ourselves. We derive more enrichment developing basic skills -- literacy, hygiene, ethics -- in our children, than in cultivating our personal appearance. Every minute I don't spend reading fashion tips in GQ is a minute I can spend reading Dr. Seuss with my young daughters. We live within our means. I can outfit myself, my wife of 25 years, and our five children in jeans from Target for what he would spend on one suit from Neiman Marcus. Practicality is more important than facade. Sneakers are more comfortable than wingtips. Sweats are more ergonomic than pinstripes for playing catch in the backyard. I own a tuxedo, but I don't wear it for oil changes.

Bach and the Beatles are not mutually exclusive. I hold season tickets to the opera, but I also like electric blues. Hank Williams and Schubert reside comfortably together in my CD rack. A genuine intellectual might regard comprehensive musical taste as evidence of a kindred spirit. Ditto for appreciating the writings of both William Buckley and Dave Barry. Who says that subtle speech is incompatible with booger jokes? Parody can be a powerful medium for conveying uncomfortable truths. Think Jonathan Swift.

Don't blame us for louts on television sitcoms, the products of notoriously pansexual Hollywood. Oafish protagonists from Ralph Cramden to Fred Flintstone to Archie Bunker to Tim Taylor to Ray Barone to Homer Simpson are far more likely to get their own comeuppance than to score one on The Man (or on Sarah Jessica Parker). Besides, what has watching TV to do with personal spiritual growth as envisioned by von Hildebrand?

We like Monty Python and Mel Brooks. Mr. Judge likes Woody Allen, no doubt the same scholarly, well-mannered Woody Allen who gave us Sleeper and Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex. It's not clear that orgasmotrons and people dressed as gametes represent more cerebral humor than the bean scene from Blazing Saddles, but chacun a son gout.

JFK had the fashion acumen of a supermodel, and the morals of a stripper. What profiteth a man if he gains the whole world...

As for pro wrestling, well, he's got us there. Let's just agree that bull-riding, mud bogs and monster truck rallies are better.

Mr. Judge judges us burbocons too harshly. We dress appropriately for the activities we undertake, which are far more eclectic than he perceives. He undervalues the areas in which we choose to grow once we reach adulthood, and he underestimates the degree to which we grow even in his preferred arenas. Many of us can and do appreciate aesthetic refinement, but other aspects of life hold higher priority.
-- James Bono
Midlothian, Virginia

I've read and watched William Buckley and all the other conservative writers mentioned by Mr. Judge for over 40 years, and I cannot remember a time when any one of them pontificated on how superior they were to their fellow conservatives. Judge is certainly an appropriate name, he has the liberal penchant for assuming that all "red state" inhabitants are too naive to understand what a great gift the elite have been to our country. It would seem to me that what is important to all us hillbillies is an abiding love for God, family and country -- in that order. I don't think Brooks Brothers is anywhere on my list. Mr. Judge has a serious hangover from his days as a socialist -- another philosophy invented by elitists to bring order and happiness to the masses who were too stupid to figure it out for themselves. If you're a redneck and don't understand what I really think: I had an immediate, visceral hatred of the Judge article. He might call himself a metrocon, but he's also a pompous ass -- and he's certainly no Bill Buckley.
-- M. Riordon Glasgow
Wichita, Kansas

I don't know whether to be annoyed or impressed.
-- Chris Bachelder
Midland, Michigan

THE STATE OF MODERN ART
Re: Clinton W. Taylor's Monumental Failure:

Clinton Taylor strikes again! And hits the nail on the head in his assessment of the Flight 93 Memorial. Sadly, what is being proposed (or already granted) is representative of what passes for art these days. Actually, not "these days." I first noticed it years ago when, on frequent trips to SFO airport there appeared in the meridian, what looked to be a dud bomb that had landed upside down -- that is, pointy end up. Frenzied traffic in the "departing" lane does not exactly lend itself to the contemplation of what the artist had in mind. Only later did I learn it was Benny Bufano's notion of Mother and Child or Mary and Jesus. It was lost on most, who shared my mistaken impression that it resembled a misdirected missile.

Driving south from my area to Palo Alto, a rest stop has a primitive rendering in some really ugly mud of Father Junipero Serra, who appears to be holding a pistol pointed toward the highway. No doubt the artist was striving for something more spiritual.

These are but two examples of what no doubt blights the land in the name of "Art." And there seems to be no stopping it, judging from Mr. Taylor's excellent article.

Didn't the "sacred ground" thing gain favor when about every condo complex or strip mall in the country got stalled because it was found to be a sacred burial ground of a long ago American Indian tribe? A gaggle of community college archaeology students would go on a "dig," unearth some questionable bones and voila! -- revoked building permits. I recall a few banned hereabouts for that reason. Considering how many pioneers died and were buried along the Oregon Trail, if that rule applies, it's a miracle that the state was ever developed.

Mr. Taylor makes an excellent argument that you don't commit a further sacrilege by profaning forevermore the memories of those brave passengers' defiant last act in defense of their country. Knowing they faced certain death, their rallying words were "Let's roll." And to commemorate this, we are going to get some smarmy grove of something with wind chimes. Whoever makes the final decision on these things must have the motto, "Let's roll over." What's the commission on a travesty such as this?

It's amazing to me that folks who used to be called hobbyists at best, are now "gettin' away with it" as artists.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Clinton W. Taylor is both mistaken and a little too harsh in his attempted linkage of Stonehenge and "New Agey" nonsense with the Flight 93 Memorial to be built outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania. For one thing, Stonehenge in any of its several prehistoric forms has never included a circle of trees. There, Taylor may be confusing the actual monument with old ideas about the much, much later Druids, who were said to worship in groves of trees.

And the designers of the Flight 93 Memorial might profit from taking heed of an even older and equally (if not more) impressive prehistoric megalithic site than Stonehenge. Callanish, on the Western Isle of Lewis & Harris off the western coast of Scotland, is in fact shaped like a cross. Specifically, even, the Celtic kind. A memorial monument that utilized this visual tradition would be much more properly awe-inspiring and provide cause for truer reflection upon matters cultural than the current design, whether or not it incorporates the iconography of the Muslim crescent.
-- Richard Szathmary

LAUGH WHILE YOU READ
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's A New Year's Resolution:

Geez, lighten up, brother!

That's all well and good to feed your mind, but humor has its place as well.

I suggest that for thoughtful but hilarious reading you may want to try Terry Pratchett, and start with the first book in his Discworld series, The Color of Magic. Try NOT laughing as you romp through a very different cosmology, a planet with different laws of physics and being, and the hilarity that brings (as well as indirect but sharp social commentary).

You know what they say about all work and no play...
-- Anastasia Mather
Staten Island, New York

TWO FOR ONE
Re: Pete Everts's letter (under "Leaker Watch") in Reader Mail's Leakology 101 and The Prowler's Hillary's Offensive Holding:

A careful parsing of Chuck Schumer's statements reveals that NSA, and CIA agents would be guilty if they leaked, but "other persons" who were briefed in their official capacity are protected by whistle-blower statutes.

A Senator, such as Rockefeller, is a great candidate, but do not rule out U.S. District Judge James Robertson, the Clinton appointed judge and FISA court justice, who was the primary foot dragger when Bush sought FISA approval. When Bush used executive privilege to circumvent Robertson, he may have (in a tantrum) leaked the wiretap story to spite Bush. Notice that he didn't resign until the New York Times ran the story. Isn't resignation the time-honored D.C. way to remove a prosecution from the front pages?
-- Newt Love
Annapolis, Maryland

With the drop in 1st class mail from ubiquitous cell phones and email, the US Postal Service (USPS) is in trouble. To help USPS union workers, Democrats leaked the existence of the NSA terrorist wiretap program. Now rich Muslim extremists will have to use 1st class mail to plan their attacks. The union jobs are saved!
-- Newt Love
Annapolis, Maryland

FISA PLEASER
Re: Jed Babbin's All the President's Spies:

"... in 2001 the president authorized the National Security Agency to collect intelligence from conversations routed through the United States and possibly including people within the United States."

I agree with you, we should do everything we can to protect ourselves.

"The activities I [President Bush] authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days. Each review is based on a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland. During each assessment, previous activities under the authorization are reviewed. The review includes approval by our nation's top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President. I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups."

I still don't understand why the President didn't include the FISA court in the loop.
-- Mike Petrovick

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