Paging Jeremy Beer: Indiana-born Miss America 2009, Agrarian

The whole Miss America thing usually doesn’t interest me much, but, while sitting in my grandfather’s living room, I noticed something in the 3 July issue of Indiana AgriNews that really piqued my interest: Katie Stam, Miss America 2009, is the first to hail from Indiana. More important (Yes, even more important than some Hoosier pride!), she’s real farm girl.

From the article:

[Stam] has signed on to be a spokesperson for the American Dairy Association of Indiana to help spread the good news about the importance of dairy nutrition, as well as tell the story of Indiana’s dairy farmers.

Stam grew up in Seymour and helped on her family’s dairy farm as a child. She is a 10-year 4-H member and showed dairy cattle.

[…]

“I’m a farm girl, and it is a goal of mine to be able to promote family farms,” Stam said.

She said her rural upbringing taught her discipline and the importance of family and family tradition.

“This isn’t just a lifestyle — this is my lifestyle, and I am very blessed to be able to take this message to a national stage,” Stam said.

{My emphasis. — NPO]

How cool is that? Gary Truitt has more at Hat Chat

A Reply to Dan Riehl

For those who haven’t been following my writing at Post Right: I’ve worked myself into quite the brouhaha over my opinions about Mark Levin, who has added me to his list of the World’s Most Deranged Bloggers. Dan Riehl has taken offense to this and done his best to call me out here. Post Right is loaded with posts, from me and many of my compeers, related to this matter, but I want to offer a direct response to Mr. Riehl here. I had hoped to post in the comment box beneath his initial screed, but my reply has proved to be far too long. Without further, ado, then, I offer it.

***

I’d initially decided not to enter this fray, not to enter the lion’s den, as it were, but, having been defended by souls kinder than I deserve, feel something of an obligation to speak for myself, ideally deflecting any criticism, infantile or, occasionally, rational, from them and toward me.

First, as others have noted, something strikes me as manifesting a sort of disconnection, a level of disingenuousness, if not outright hypocrisy, about criticizing me for voicing my disdain for Mr. Levin without actually having listened to his program and then calling me “an apparent moron” without knowing anything about me, the opinions I hold, the educational achievements on my record, or my writing beyond one apparently controversial online screed.

If, Mr Riehl, you bothered to read any of my relatively few postings as Post Right, or at my personal Weblog, then I retract this statement. However, nothing suggests that you did. On the other hand, I at least read summaries of Mr. Levin’s daily program before making any comments. This is, I agree, not the same as listening; however, notwithstanding any nuances or exceptions that he may offer during the show, these summaries, paired with writings of his available across the Web, suffice to paint a picture of his views. Also, I did take the time to read the debate between you and Mr. Friedersdorf, wherein Mr. Levin chimed in and wherein Conor excerpted the original broadcast segment that so appalled him. So, although I admit that I was perhaps venturing slightly beyond safe ground in waging my “war” against Mr. Levin, I have proceeded far more safely than you have, and I did do some legwork, so to speak.

Regarding the very first sentence of your post: I’m not sure why an anti-Levin screed at a Weblog hosted by The American Conservative surprises you as it does. The magazine’s non-mainstream perspective(s) are quite obvious. Some of your commenters, replying to your philippic against Mr. Ford, have called it a right-wing version of The Nation. That’s not quite right, but it does hit on the anti-war nature of the publication. I’m not sure that anything about being anti-war, particularly when our Wilsonian leaders find pretext for war just about anywhere, is anti-conservative. Taft, Kirk, et al., I think, would agree. I wholly admit that I may be wrong, given my age and the sadly small amount of Kirk that I’ve read, but he strikes me as having been a pretty anti-war sort of chap. TAC has a lot more in common with Kirk and Taft than with neoconservatives, the Republican Party, and mainstream conservatism.

Your comment about my attire in one picture is a bit perplexing, particularly given that you’ve apparently no eye for context. That photograph was actually taken on my family farm. There’s nothing Wyatt Earp-esque or Bad Bart-esque about it. I’m just a country boy; my family owns farmland, my grandfather’s been on that farm since 1914, and I drive our beat-up 1988 Chevy truck as often as I do my car. Such an ad hominem attack (if it’s even worthy of Latin) seems, to me, to below what passes for sincere, honest discourse about ideas. Again, I’m young: I may simply be missing out on the salient point here.

(Truth be told, I wish I’d one of my three-piece-suit photographs up; I’m curious to see how you’d have responded, especially if it had been one in which I’m wearing a pink shirt. I can only imagine what fun you may have had at my expense!)

The broader point about your linking to my Facebook profile, as Patrick addressed in response to your post about his input on this whole kerfuffle, is that, whether or not Facebook is public, linking to it is, in the words of a friend, “so sixth grade”. It’s useless (particularly given the ease wherewith I changed my profile picture) and, to those not in my network, not my “friends”, and not “friends” of my “friends”, the profile is inaccessible. Visitors who click on your link see my profile picture, my networks, and a couple of my “friends”. It’s not offensive or wrong; just silly and slightly creepy.

A grad student all of 26 years old, versus Mark Levin’s significant accomplishments in multiple fields – from Reagan’s White House to the bestseller’s list … but Mr. Wilson’s nemesis Dennis passes judgment without ever having listened to Mark’s show??? Spare me, please. At least the guy is honest enough to tell us just how utterly stupid he is right upfront with that revealing bit of idiocy.

(A quick, minor correction: I’m not a graduate student anymore, as I have earned my master’s degree, and I’m only twenty-five. Where you got twenty-six is a mystery to me, but not particularly relevant.) Although, I reckon, there’s something slightly impressive about having served in the White House, serving as a lackey to a Federal official, even the president, hardly wows me. I guess that’s the Anti-Federalist in me; I don’t trust the presidency, and I’m perpetually baffled by the right-wing adulation for a man whose policies were anything but fiscally conservative. Moreover, given the absolute rubbish that makes the bestsellers’ list (as I’m sure you and Mr. Levin both would agree), I’m not very interested in that feat. I’m not going to contend that Mr. Levin isn’t intelligent or successful; both are obvious. These facts neither make him any more qualified to comment than I am nor indicate a higher — or lower — level of intelligence. Yes, I did pass judgment without listening — though, as I’ve noted, I did at least do some legwork. Having listened, finally, to some of Mr. Levin’s program, I am only further convinced of the correctness of my beliefs. (See here, if you — or your readers — so desire: http://www.amconmag.com/postright/2009/07/01/one-more-levin-post-someone-stop-me/ ) I may be stupid and honest, as you charge; at least, as you also note, I’m honest.

In the comments to your post about Patrick, and in the post itself, you reject the label “neoconservative” for both yourself and for Mr. Levin. I’ve not read enough of your material to comment on you. However, I’m not sure that I agree with your assessment of Mr. Levin. “Neoconservative” is, mayhap, thrown about too easily, too frequently, by other conservatives (paleo, reformist, or otherwise) and by leftists; however, having listened to Mr. Levin claim that President Obama has a “hate-on for Israel” — a patently absurd comment to make —, and knowing of his strongly interventionist tendencies, I can only extrapolate that he, indeed, is at least moderately neoconservative. As I’ve noted a hundred times if once, he does seem to be sincere in his belief in limited government respecting domestic policy — and I haven’t heard or read enough to have a clear idea of where he falls on “social issue” —, so I’m willing to grant that maybe he’s not a pure neocon, but he certainly seems to have similar proclivities, and his interventionist tendencies restrict his respectable views on limited government to the point of making them irrelevant. The welfare state and the warfare state are pretty inextricably intertwined, as are expansion of government for the purposes of what Professor Bacevich and others refer to as “American exceptionalism” and the continued expansion of Federal interference with our lives. To paraphrase Mr. Levin, “There’s a reason why they push big government in foreign policy: Because it leads to bigger government at home, much more surreptitiously.”

AND NOW, relatively briefly, a few replies to some commenters.

*Rhod: I’m not sure that your characterization of TAC is quite right. There’s definitely truth to it, but it’s a very incomplete characterization. I only fit into one of those groups — the “isolationists” —, and it’s hardly how primarily describe my views. Also, since when is “crank” an epithet?

Don’t worry *SacTownMan, I’m well aware of the limits of my intelligence. However, I’m not sure what’s “NEW” about my conservatism. Though I’ve done copious amounts of reading (and “reading”) in my day, the breadth of my knowledge is limited. However, I do know enough to draw on Aristotle, Aquinas, Burke, Belloc, Kirk, Röpke, and others — none of whom I’d call “NEW”.

*mark l.: Don’t you think limiting political viewpoints to merely two poles, dubbed “liberal” and “conservative”, is both unhelpful and passé?

rather than arriving at a position based upon the two competing ideologies, they must calibrate their position relative to the other’s point on the line. It becomes a matter of defining their beliefs upon who they will not stand next to, rather than arrive at their locus based upon the primary, and only real, question.

I don’t even know what to make of this. I’ve been defining and re-defining my beliefs for a helluva lot longer than Mr. Levin’s been anywhere near my radar. I’d be more than happy to “stand next to” him on those issues where we agree, should I ever have to, but a “No Enemies to the Right” mentality is not my cup of tea.

*Mrs. Peperium:

Well Bush Derangement Syndrome had to go somewhere. And if it did, it couldn’t have focused on a more marvelous target – Mark Levin. You really do have to be deranged to think at 26 or 30 years of age you are in Mark Levin’s league. Why a 40 year old would be hard pressed to be in Mark’s league. Think about how many of Mark’s accomplishments a 26 year-old would have to outright dismiss to believe this about themselves. Positively breathtaking. These * writers * really ought to consider applying for a White House Fellowship – Obama could use them-well.

I’ve already addressed most of what you cover here, but I’ll return to one point. Age has very little to say, ultimately, an Mr. Levin’s feats in his life, though respectable, hardly put him in some unattainable seraphic or Elysian league. He’s just a guy with opinions; he just happens to have a microphone, experience that dazzles the vapid, and a vastly larger audience.

I’m not really sure that Mr Obama’s White House has any interest in someone like me. They seem generally to disapprove of localist, anti-interventionist, anti-corporate, anti-statist conservatives.

I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why you question our conservative credentials with asterisks; I guess all of that “big-tent” malarky proves itself to be what it is when someone inside the figurative tent dares to question someone else.

*Rob Crawford: That sounds like snark to me. Tsk, tsk.

Why I Advocate the Return to Popularity of the Waistcoat

I told a reporter here a while back — young girl, seemed nice enough. She was just tryin to be a reporter. She said: Sheriff how come you to let crime get so out of hand in your county? Sounded like a fair question I reckon. Maybe it was a fair question. Anyway I told her, I said: It starts when you begin to overlook bad manners. Any time you quit hearin Sir and Mam the end is pretty much in sight. I told her, I said: It reaches into ever strata. You’ve heard about that aint you? Ever strata? You finally get into the sort of breakdown in mercantile ethics that leaves people settin around out in the desert dead in their vehicles and by then it’s just too late.

— Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, No Country for Old Men, chapter twelve, pages three hundred-and-three—three hundred-and-four.

My recent work at Post Right

“Friedersdorf on Happy Meal-Conservative Talk Radio”: Conor ably calls out Mark Levin, et alios

Caritas in Veritate: Pope Benedict has a social encyclical due at month’s end.

“Call Me Skeptical”: Netanyahu, in my humble estimation, is a snake. A “sovereign” Palestine, as he envisions it, will be no freer of Israel than George W. Bush was of Dick Cheney.

“My Only Thoughts on Perplexing Persian Politics”: I sympathize with the reformists (although I question the reformist credentials of Mousavi), but believe that complete American inaction is the best course of American action.

Defending Home

Davey defends Marilynne Robinson’s Home, which I just finished last night, against Rusty Reno’s inconceivably off-base attack, at First Things (Are we surprised?) here, at Theopolitical

This is, in my humble estimation, one of the finer novels of the day (as is its companion and predecessor, Gilead), and Jack Boughton — Antagonist? Protagonist? Both — is one of the most fascinating characters you’ll find. The way in which Robinson attends to the complexities of the strained (to say the least) relationship between Jack and his father, the aged Rev. Boughton; his sister, Glory; and his namesake, and father’s best friend, the Rev. John Ames, is strikingly beautiful, and there’s a touchingly conflicted Front Porch Republic-esque appreciation of place permeating the novel.

Read Davey’s excellent response to Reno, and pick up Home (and Gilead) if you haven’t already.

Neighborhood Schools, Local Business

Over at The League, the (extra)ordinary Mr. Kain has a splendid piece on “the concept of the school itself as an essential part of one’s community.” It is, rest assured, well worth the read. (At Front Porch Republic, Professor Fox offered, a couple of months ago, the very interesting “A Partially Localist Defense of Public Education”, wherein, discussing Mike Huckabee and school consolidation, he notes very reasonable, troublesome reasons to support consolidation; that’s neither here nor there (Well, not here, but maybe there!), but the posting is worth your time, too.) My favorite passage from E.D.:

I’d like to see, quite literally, corner schools – kind of like the days of “corner stores” which have now all vanished in the face of big grocery chains and super Wal*Marts. Because corner schools would be personable. They’d be right there in your neighborhood. Elementary schools tend to be closer to this model. For some reason we go from a dozen or so elementary schools in a mid-size town to one or two high schools. It doesn’t make sense. And if you’re worried about sports, there’s really no reason why schools couldn’t team up to create a good football team. But even better than that, you’d have lots more sports teams and lots more kids would get a chance to play – even if the teams themselves weren’t quite as star-studded, and the games were not quite as good. Still, it would level the playing field, so to speak. And that’s a good thing.

One thing upon which E.D. touches not (though one can infer it, perhaps, from this earlier line: “Schools should be more responsive to their communities needs and vice versa.”) is the particular connectivity between the school and the local business community. Before the 1974-75 academic year, students at North Judson-San Pierre High School (a product of the dreaded mid-century consolidation movement: San Pierre could hardly support a high school, by the advanced standards of the education technocrats) attended classes, concerts, and basketball games in the middle of town, at the corner of Keller Ave. and Central Ave, just a block from Lane St., our main drag. (The football team played on a field now replaced by residential blocks some number of streets to the west; the baseball team, on the same large town block, on WPA-built Norwayne Field.)

My father, oftenly enough, has spoken of lunch hours spent at Pell’s Sweet Shop, the local diner at Lane St. and Adair St. (See map linked to above.), to which he and friends would race to save a booth and where they’d play Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein”, Grand Funk Railroad’s “Flight of the Phoenix”, and Deep Purple’s classic “Smoke on the Water” on the jukebox, all three for a quarter. Old Man Pellegrini worked the fryer, calling out “French-a-fry, French-a-fry!” in broken English between quarrelsome verbal bouts with his wife. In the mid-Seventies, in time for my father’s class to be the first to graduate, the school board replaced this downtown facility with a presumably state–of–the–art (Read: Barns–with–lean-tos–looking bit of totalitarian architecture; insufficiently fenestrated, natch!) building on the southwestern edge of town, with cornfields on two sides!

The Keller Avenue building then housed middle school students — to wit, continued to operate, but not with students likely to be trusted to venture forth from an open campus for lunch —, whilst the secondary-education students had no choice but to lunch daily on remarkably cardboard-esque mass-produced cafeteria food — served by ladies kindly enough, but many packs of Virginia Slims beyond their prime, with all the enthusiasm of a reluctant mortician into whose hands the family business fell —, imprisoned (a verb all too regrettably à propos of the school’s æsthetic character) by the closed-campus restrictions I assume were imposed de jure (By my time in high school, anyway, the school compelled students to remain on the premises at lunch, and otherwise, without a legitimate excuse.), and, certainly, were discouraged, de facto, from enjoying lunch served by a local restaurateur by the reliance upon an automobile (paired with a relatively short lunch hour) that this anti-communitarian location required of students. The students lost “choice”; the diners and restaurants, customers.

Troublingly enough, returning our schools to neighborhoods — or, in smaller towns, nearer our business districts — is, presently, rather impractical. Doubtless, the school district here could not at all easily build new schools in downtown North Judson, and if they could, likely would construct buildings so atrocious that one easily would mistake them for anything but. (See here about architectural ineptitude in North Judson.) This is saddening. Notwithstanding the very real objections found in Prof. Fox’s disquisition, E.D’s case is quite compelling; what I’ve discussed hereabove only strengthens it. Methinks an incredibly sensible, could-be-practical way to help to revive our local economies without furthering the often onerous regulations employed — sensibly enough — to level the playing field for local businesses is to bring our schools back. As Mr. Kain properly proclaims, the school is an essential part of the community, and as Mr. Kunstler, that pugnacious prognosticator of Peak Oil and maligner of modern massacres of the public realm, echoing Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky, asserted, in The Geography of Nowhere, “Community is Economy.”

Post-script: I’d certainly love to see a return of Catholic education, even if only at the elementary (and middle-school) level, as was the case in the past, to North Judson. Paul Barnes, commenting on E.D’s piece, broaches this topic.

Sign of the Times

Now in his early fifties, my father receives the monthly AARP Bulletin. On page sixteen of the June 2009 issue, I learn from the header of the cover, I can read all about the following:

“Scam Alert: Is Your Facebook Friend An Identity Thief?”

This troubles me for at least three reasons.