The Spectacle Blog

Changing Gears: The Fiction of Lars Walker

By on 8.30.06 | 2:56PM

It happens every once in a while. You discover something that is really special, that should be incredibly successful, but unaccountably, isn't. A very well read friend made me aware of the fiction of Lars Walker. He writes mostly about Vikings during the period when Christianity contended with pagan religions, but he also has a contemporary novel (which happens to deal with Viking lore!).

I cannot give a high enough recommendation to Lars Walker's The Year of the Warrior. I had to wait for it, but it was completely worth the wait. The narrator of the story is a young Irishman taken captive to sell as a slave by Vikings. They give him a tonsure to make him look like a priest so he'll fetch a higher price. A newly converted Viking nobleman buys him because he needs a priest for his village. The Irishman decides to play the part of the priest in order to survive and the action flows from there.

Kaine Cries Uncle!

By on 8.30.06 | 1:41PM

From the Washington Post:

In a speech Monday to the General Assembly's money committees, Kaine again offered a laundry list of transportation projects that need more money, including improvements to Interstate 66, the Capital Beltway, Metro and Virginia Railway Express. But he conceded that the public strongly opposes the tax increases he proposed earlier.

"They are aware that solutions will cost money," Kaine said, citing recent polls of the public. "But they don't want to pay more taxes."

That grinding sound you hear is the Post editorialists gnashing their teeth.

Kudlow & Co. Tonight

By on 8.30.06 | 1:26PM

I'll be on tonight (about 5:45 pm) debating Larry Korb on the Rumsfeld speech yesterday. Interesting part of that is the AP story which kicked off the misreporting of what Rumsfeld said. Kudlow's producer sent the first to me yesterday, and it didn't sound right. Checking with the Pentagon proved it materially wrong.

Their first version -- since rewritten at least twice -- said Rumsfeld, "...accused critics of the Bush administration's Iraq and counterterrorism policies of trying to appease a 'new type of fascism.'" But Rumsfeld never made that accusation.

After the Pentagon raised hell with AP, the third re-write said, "Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday the world faces 'a new type of fascism' and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement."

Cautiously in favor of Rudy G

By on 8.30.06 | 12:55PM

Hunter, I grew up in and around New York city. I remember it at its (pre-Bloomberg) worst. Trash everywhere, gangs on the streets, pedestrians unable to have a conversation because of all the horns blowing. The broken warehouse window should have been copyrighted as the city's trademark. Then came Rudy.

Clean streets, a city once again a pleasure to walk in, and much safer to do just that. He proved his worth long before 9-11. And now Bloomberg is ruining it all over again.

But does all of Giuliani's good translate into a warfighting president who can lead the nation and the world? Is he dedicated to being a small government conservative? Will the right-to-lifers even let him compete for the nomination?

I'd like to like Rudy. So far, there are too many unanswered questions to make any judgment other than he'd be better than McCain. ABM voters unite.

Re: South Park Democrats

By on 8.30.06 | 11:27AM

Shawn, fair enough if we're talking about things from a philosophical, rather than purely political perspective. I agree that Republicans can use a healthy dose of anti-statism. With that said, it's worth adding that there's a lot libertarians could do to gain more influence within the Republican Party. The reality is that politicians are primarily interested in winning elections, and the only way to gain influence is to convince them that you can help them win. Religious conservatives weren't always a major part of the party, but once they proved themselves a dependable voting bloc, willing to volunteer and turnout on Election Day, they won a seat at the table. Sure, they haven't gotten much of what they wanted, but they are surely better off than they would have been had they sat on their hands for the past several decades (if nothing else, look at Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts). In contrast, libertarians tend to be a cynical bunch not likely to get involved in the cheesy elements of bumper-sticker politics that dominate elections.

Re: South Park Democrats

By on 8.30.06 | 9:40AM

Phillip writes: I have done a lot of writing about how frustration over spending may hamper turnout among conservatives and swing control of Congress to the Democrats (see the March issue of TAS and also here), but my basic point earlier today was that the type of libertarians Tierney found in Amsterdam already defected from the Republican Party. So, I don't think Gillespie's statement that, "Most of the libertarians I know have given up on the G.O.P" means much for November, because I'm sure he would have said the exact same thing two years ago.

More in Favor of Rudy G.

By on 8.30.06 | 8:06AM

I recall visiting New York City for the first time about eight years ago. I was working in the greater Washington D.C. area (meaning Reston, VA!) and a good friend prevailed on me to make the trip.

As a small-town southern boy, I was frankly terrified in anticipation. I'd grown up on a steady diet of cop shows on television and comic books that portrayed NYC as a concrete jungle with terror lying in wait around every corner.

Imagine my surprise when I drove into town and found that walking around Brooklyn and Manhattan was significantly less fearsome than the same stroll through downtown Atlanta. Way fewer panhandlers, too. I've never been panhandled less in any major city than in NYC. We're talking zero in my two visits there, versus about twenty times in a recent trip to Vancouver.

I remember thinking on that trip to the city and on a subsequent venture to a hotel in Times Square, "This is Rudy Giuliani's New York. This guy is a leader."

When it comes to a president, ideology isn't everything. As long as Rudy is a little right of the democrat, I'll support him.

Re: More Giuliani

By on 8.30.06 | 12:38AM

Dave, based on your two earlier posts, we agree on at least two things: 1) The terrorism/national security issue will prove crucial in 2008. 2) Giuliani is the best-positioned Republican on this issue. I will not attempt to deny that Giuliani has taken liberal stances on many (if not most) social issues, and that for some social conservatives this makes him simply an unacceptable candidate. But, given his advantage on national security, he doesn't have to be the ideal social conservative candidate. His much narrower task is to win over some social conservatives and prevent an all out revolt against his candidacy by those who don't like him. I think this is achievable.

Re: South Park Democrats

By on 8.29.06 | 10:17PM

John, fair enough that there were 10 Bush voters in that informal Reason poll, but I also counted 47 participants. So, with only 10 votes out of 47, I'm willing to stand by my statement that "most everybody" did not vote for Bush (I didn't mean to imply everybody).

Re: South Park Democrats

By on 8.29.06 | 8:44PM

It's about more than voting blocks. In a 1975 interview with Reason no less a conservative than Ronald Reagan said, "If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism." Now, obviously the power dynamics and constituencies are different these days, but the truth is the more Republicans win, the more the philosophical backbone of the party seems to weaken under the understandable if not particularly admirable desire to hold onto power. So libertarians may not win Republicans elections, but it's difficult to look at the behavior of this Congress and White House without getting the sense that we could use a little more principled opposition in the ranks. Right-leaning libertarians carry more worth than a simple vote.

Here's more Reagan from that interview, by the by: