How American Decline Led to the Rise of an American Caudillo
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Bill Safire died yesterday. As self-styled wordsmiths, opinionators and pundits we are all the poorer for his passing. Safire could be a maddening soul–he was not a party man but rather the creature of his own principles, civil liberties first and foremost among them. As such, he could not be depended upon by left or right to employ his elegant prose on demand. He followed his own star.
I had the good fortune to get to know Mr. Safire a little over the past few years, and am personally feeling a little short-changed this evening. I had hoped for more. He was, as you might imagine, not a warm and fuzzy type. You needed to bring your A game to any encounter with him, or risk him shooting you a look and saying, “That’s enough time”–in other words, it’s time for you to leave. But he was also insightful and witty and generous. Conversations could be like seminars, not only on events but also on the proper way to describe them.
It is comforting that much of Bill Safire survives in his extraordinary corpus of columns and books. I have had reason to do a careful reading–and re-reading–of Before The Fall this year. It’s quite the cautionary tale of life in the Nixon White House. And by chance, I happened to spend a fair amount of time last week sifting through his 1974-75 columns. As the country struggled through Watergate and all the associated fall out through the first year of the Ford presidency, you might expect Safire to have gone out of his way to support the new administration.
He did no such thing. He hammered away week in and week out as those all too human beings–many of whom had been his colleagues–attempted to govern. Reading the columns in sequence makes a fascinating chronicle of our country struggling through a terrible time politically, economically, socially–in almost any way you can imagine. Right or wrong, Safire stuck to his guns, as he would in the decades to follow, defending his principles in that studied and refined prose that is a lesson to all of us.
After I did my research last week I had some questions for him, but as he might have said had I called tomorrow to ask for a meeting, “Does this have to happen? It’s really all in the columns.” Indeed, it is. That is something for which we can all be grateful.
You know Larry Elder: the African-American, Californian, libertarian, popular radio host and firebrand. He’s been around for a while, and he’s a solid presence on the California media-and-politics scene. Elder is a serious name and presence among California Republicans. He just wrapped up his radio show. “Why,” you might ask, “doesn’t Larry Elder run for the Senate?”
There is an answer accorinding to many of Elder’s friends at the Republican Convention — Senator Cornyn and the NRSC told him not to.
Here’s the story that is circulating at the convention. . .
I am in danger of becoming a broken record on the issue of Net Neutrality in this space, but as aggressively as the Democrats are pushing the issue, it is a danger we all will have to live with. Once again, I will summarize the issue with a minimum of technological impediments to understanding:
Net Neutrality started out as a broad-based movement on the Internet. It wasn’t a left-wing thing at all, but rather was something most of us could support, because it was merely a movement to ensure (usually government franchise-backed) ISP firms could not abuse their monopoly or oligopoly power to coerce their customers to use other services by the firm, such as phone service in the case of AT&T or television service in the case of Comcast. I believe this is a reasonable request. It doesn’t prevent investors in Internet technology from profiting, but rather merely prevents them from abusing government-granted market power to benefit other businesses.
However on Monday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski went beyond that when he outlined his six principles of Net Neutrality in a speech to the Brookings Institution. What he proposes is an intrusive, never-ending government hand in the growth and management of the Internet, one that is clearly aimed at the Socialist goal of “single-payer Internet,” run with the same agile reactiveness as the DMV or the TSA.
At times, like this one, a chart is better than a 1,000 words.
Friends, I have arrived. If ever you doubted that I am somebody, we now have definitive proof brought to us by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They list Sean Hannity, Chuck Norris, Glenn Beck, Rick Perry, and me as examples of prominent voices on the right stirring up the next generation of Timothy McVeigh’s.
Apparently, daring to be critical of government and pointing out the right to defend yourself against tyranny is too much for the SPLC, which has taken a formerly proud history of fighting racism to whole new planets of absurdity.
But, I have arrived!