Patterico's Pontifications

4/11/2009

Remembering William F. Buckley Jr.

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 10:55 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

In William F. Buckley Jr.’s autobiography Miles Gone By, he devoted a chapter to Blackford Oakes, the hero of his series of spy novels. Buckley envisioned Blackford Oakes as a counter to the anti-Americanism he saw in so much of the popular culture. He cited in particular the film Three Days of the Condor, which came out in 1975, just before Buckley began working on the first of his Blackford Oakes books. In the film, Robert Redford played a CIA analyst caught up in a murderous plot involving not the KGB or the East German Stassi, but rogue elements within the CIA itself. In other words, the bad guys were the very people we expect to be the good guys.

Buckley himself served briefly with the CIA after graduation from Yale, and in the Blackford Oakes books he set out to define the Cold War not as a standoff between moral equals, as was and remains widely held among the political Left, but rather as a genuine conflict between good and evil, with, it should go without saying but may not, the United States and the West on the side of the former. The degree to which one agrees with this assessment is probably as good a measure as any in placing him on the continuum between Left and Right.

I say all this merely to preface a remarkable passage I came across in re-reading Miles Gone By today. Presented below are the final two paragraphs of the chapter discussed above. The Cold War may have ended, but threats to America nonetheless abound, a fact Mr. Buckley understood better than most.

Blackford Oakes has weaknesses spiritual and corporal. But a basic assumption guides him. It is that the survival of everything we cherish depends on the survival of the culture of liberty; and that this hangs on our willingness to defend this extraordinary country of ours, so awfully mixed up so much of the time, so schizophrenic in its understanding of itself and its purposes, so crazily indulgent of its legion of wildly ungovernable miscreants – to defend it at all costs. With it all, this idealistic republic is the finest bloom of nationhood in all recorded time, and save only that God may decide that the land of the free and the home of the brave has outrun its license on history, we Americans must contend, struggle, and if necessary fight for America’s survival.

In due course we will all die. But when we die, let us resolve that we shall have died confident that those who follow us will live freely; and that they, living as free men and women, will be grateful that, at the threatened nightfall, the blood of their forefathers ran strong.

Mr. Buckley passed away just over a year ago. He is greatly missed.

Government Motors Follies: Super Kabuki edition

Filed under: General — Karl @ 8:32 am

[Posted by Karl]

Megan McArdle notes the problem faced by Car Dealer-In-Chief Obama:

The government is trying to get GM and Chrysler bondholders to take a hefty haircut on their debt rather than push the companies into bankruptcy.  The problem is, it’s a terrible deal for the bondholders, and there’s no reason for them to do it…

***

The administration seems to be negotiating like a sovereign, which, of course, it is.  But GM is not.  Unlike Argentina, it can’t just default and flip off the bondholders.  When it defaults, its creditors can put it into bankruptcy.  The administration seems to be trying to prevent that in order to preserve stakeholder value–but the recovery in bankruptcy is essentially the floor of what the creditors will accept.

Or maybe this is all some elaborate Kabuki ritual, where the government pretends to be talking tough in order to placate Big Labor, while quietly waiting for the inevitable.  Either way, it seems like a giant waste of time.

Actually, it’s more than Kabuki.  Tom Maguire has noted that free riding GMAC bondholders have already made a lot of money betting that the “inevitable” is not — that when push comes to shove, the government will blink, as it already has twice with GM.  Maguire also predicted the behavior that is confusing McArdle:

Obama is trying to extract concessions from General Motors bondholders, all of whom know that the free riders will pick up a windfall after Obama shocks everyone by deciding not to take GM into bankruptcy.  The free riders could be controlled in bankruptcy, of course, but that won’t be happening.  However, a lot of huffing and puffing has to take place over the next few months to scare some bond holders into submission somehow.  Clearly, the ordinary Washington Kabuki won’t be enough – look for Super Kabuki!

McArdle may be underestimating the lengths to which the Obama Administration and a Democratic Congress will go to bail out the UAW and its electorally-important, white, blue-collar, workers in the swing states of the upper Midwest.

–Karl


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