When President Bush announced, in a televised speech, that he was planning to deploy 21,500 additional troops to Iraq, he added an ominous aside:
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
In light of the provocative actions the Bush administration has taken over the past year, these words cannot easily be dismissed as mere saber-rattling.
If Rush Limbaugh can pass for a conservative these days, it’s no marvel that George Will can, too. Unlike Limbaugh, he at least reads books, especially Victorian ones. (He even named his daughter Victoria.) But he shares with Limbaugh an easygoing approach to defining conservatism, to the extent that a tabloid tramp such as Rudy Giuliani makes Will’s cut, while a far more principled man such as Rep. Ron Paul (one of the very few members of today’s Congress who could converse about something other than the weather with James Madison) is faintly risible—at best, “a useful anachronism.” Yes, this of one of the few who opposed invading Iraq from the start.
With all the mud spattered on the Confederate Battle Flag of late, you knew it wouldn’t be long before Ol’ Virginny scrubbed up for Jamestown’s 400th anniversary with a grandiloquent apology for slavery. And Georgia, New York, and other former colonies of the original 13 will soon join the state in the confessional tub and lather up with the ideological lye faster than you can say Jackie Robinson.
A review of Winter’s Bone: A Novel, by Daniel Woodrell.
The Missouri Ozarks are the western outpost of Appalachia. The hills are not as high as their elder brothers to the east, but they plunge down into narrow, labyrinthine valleys, where streams of cool, green water run. The surrounding soil is mostly shallow and full of rocks, with open spaces so small that vegetable gardens are the only farming. Those hills that have not been denuded of their timber are covered in lush and beautiful hardwood forests. In the summer, they are almost impenetrable; once inside, there is deep shade and a cacophony of sound—a chorus of cicadas, the thump-thump-thump and wild cries of pileated woodpeckers. In the winter, the trees are stripped bare by ice storms, and the forest floor is carpeted with oak leaves.