Nov. 22, 1999
Two weeks ago, after months of relentless effort, one of the industry's behemoths actually granted me an interview. I spent a day in San Jose, Calif., parrying the same questions from a dozen IBM2 employees for a technical writing job.
It all started when CTG recruiter Iris Loke called to ask, "Do you know the way to San Jose?"
"I've been away so long, I may go wrong, and lose my way," I said.3
Loke was persistent, though, and my skepticism ended when she e-mailed me my flight information.
Normally, when a recruiter submits me for a job ("req") at a company the size of Big Blue,4 the position is then put on hold, the company experiences a hiring freeze, or the project loses funding. All before I interview.
One constant: Everyone I talked with complained about California's cost of living and its tax rates.5 In fact, it's a serious concern within the state in general and Silicon Valley in particular. At the interview, this concern took the form of people repeatedly asking me if the money was OK, if I was committed to moving to California, and if I was going to experience sticker shock.
People ask me questions like that when they won't confess to some severe and sometimes systemic problems their organization faces. In this case, it's IBM's difficulties doing business in California.
The tax and regulatory environment is tarnishing the Golden State's facade to look like a late-version portrait of Dorian Gray.6 A late Victorian metaphor is apt, since the problem's roots go back about a century when California was at the forefront of the "progressive" assault on liberal, dynamic open society.7
This assault was successful enough that by the early 1930s California had one of the most generous welfare policies in the nation. This attracted the migration of Okies depicted in "Grapes of Wrath."8 In turn, those with clout in state and federal politics (and who supported the policies) used the Okies as convenient scapegoats much as the Mexican immigrants are today.9
The successive attacks on California's producers by Thomas Sowell's anointed are much more sophisticated than anything dreamt up by the typical James Bond villain.10
In real life, Zorin wouldn't attempt to destroy Silicon Valley with a nuclear-triggered earthquake.11 Instead, he'd work to elect governor somebody like Gray Davis, leading a cohort equipped with graduate degrees in public policy and management (i.e., people who impose additional regulatory burdens in environmental, employment and zoning matters).12
CLOSER TO HOME
That same week, meanwhile, Nicole Merrett of SalesLogix in Scottsdale, Ariz.,13 interviewed me for a Web marketing job. "What marketing experience do you have -- besides your ability at self-promotion," she asked laughingly.
Not so funny: the recent judicial finding against Microsoft. A federal stifling of the most dynamic industry in existence is not what I need when I'm trying to establish myself within it. Now I may pay the price for Bill Gates' naive, copious contributions to the Democratic Party without getting anything in return.14
WHITE HOUSE BLUES
Perhaps Gates anticipates some cosmic justice against President Clinton, now that he's met Eric Clapton.15 Nearly 100 people associated with Clinton, from Cabinet secretaries to bodyguards, have died in recent years. Some speculate Clinton is directly responsible for these deaths; regardless, people around him seem to have an unfortunate tendency to perish prematurely -- just like ol' Slowhand.16 A former colleague of mine once said, "He's like Eric Clapton. He has bad luck, but it's the people around him who die." Now Clapton's played the White House. What happens next?
In all likelihood the "old media" will miss the ramifications of this encounter, since the "cappuccino sippers" -- Matt Drudge's term for his competitors17 -- are coping with scandals of their own.
The Los Angeles Times is taking heat for a cozy deal with an advertiser that violates the alleged independence of the editorial side from business department influence. Plus, Publisher Kathryn Downing openly dismissed the complaints from her predecessor, one of the prominent members of the family who owns the paper.18
Meanwhile, at the New York Times, columnist and former Editor in Chief A.M. "Abe" Rosenthal has been fired after a lifetime of service to the self-proclaimed newspaper of record. No full account of his canning will be found within the Gray Lady, though speculations abound as to the real reasons.19
At the movies, box office hit20 "The Insider" really slams Mike Wallace, "60 minutes" producer Don Hewitt and CBS in general for its flip-flops over a whistle blowing story on a tobacco company.21
Now, cigarette maker Brown & Williamson is making legal noises against Disney, which produced the movie. Anyway, it's nice to see the Magic Kingdom, normally a purveyor of campy, white-bread entertainment, finally doing something gritty -- only to acquire another enemy.22
The Weekly Standard has an amazingly condescending article on Steve Forbes and his campaign. In the same issue ... a tribute to Socialist Eugene Victor Debs, who ran for president back in the days when California was establishing its welfare state.23 Does publisher Rupert Murdoch know these neoconservative24 fifth columnists crow for confrontation with Red China,25 the same country in which he sizably invests;26 or advocate widespread censorship,27 including, presumably, his Fox network programming?28
Elsewhere in the conservative firmament, William F. Buckley Jr., founder of National Review, comes out in favor of of gun registration ("Notes & Asides," National Review, Nov. 8).29 No great leap for an ex-Central Intelligence agent30 who advocated a permanent wartime bureaucracy,31 advocated mandatory "national service,"32 advocated the illegal bombing of Serbia,33 worked to release a recidivist convicted killer and rapist34 and tried to purge the likes of John T. Flynn, Milton Friedman, Joseph Sobran and many, many others from his movement.35
Columnist Samuel Francis and R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., editor of The American Spectator, have analyzed Buckley's motive and concluded he wants to be a player in the "vital center" formulated by Kennedy administration rent boy Arthur Schlesinger Jr.36
Virginia Postrel wrote the obit for this vampiric social arrangement a few years ago.37
Now Postrel, Reason's editor in chief for the last 10 years, is moving upstairs as she seeks an invitation to the "vital center." Executive Editor Nick Gillespie replaces her.38
The change should be interesting. Gillespie has written many many fine, snarky articles for suck.com, and for the now-defunct Los Angeles 'zine Ben is Dead (and by extension, "editress" Darby Romeo's wonderful cultural encyclopedia "Retro Hell: Life in the '70s and '80s, From Afros to Zotz.")39
Gillespie also wrote an article critical of 1996 Libertarian presidential nominee Harry Browne that ignited a firestorm of criticism against Reason and against Postrel in particular. The most trenchant, because accurate, complaint leveled was that Reason had become "boring."40
I first noticed this six years ago, when the magazine changed its original nameplate font to one that makes Reason look like a mail-order vitamin supplements catalog.41 The decline continued until about two years ago, probably because Postrel was preoccupied writing and promoting her book, "The Future and Its Enemies," with its accompanying theory of dynamism.42 "Dynamism is essentially repackaged libertarianism, ... though the word makes her nervous because so many people associate it with the fringe Libertarian Party ...."43
Who can blame her? Why endure slings from geeky losers when she can participate in respectable panel discussions on C-SPAN and pose for Vanity Fair?
Almost as dead as Ben is Dead is the Star Trek franchise, according to Salon. Seems the producers have boldly gone into the familiar Galaxy of Diminishing Returns with their niche product.44
Limping behind the Trekkies, the less-saturated band Van Halen needs a new lead singer, who left after one lackluster album that guitarist Eddie Van Halen self-pityingly defended on a customer review site. Even the die-hard fans are contemptuous.45
The Art Ensemble of Chicago is perhaps even closer to the end of
its existence with the recent death of trumpeter Lester Bowie, 58.46
I had the pleasure of seeing Bowie in 1991 with his side band, Brass Fantasy.
I'll miss him.
1 EAD No. 8 (3 Oct. 1999).
2 APSG, 101.
3 Bacharach, Burt, and Hal David. "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" (1967) The Best Fake Book Ever, 2nd ed. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corp., 1999: 175. Recording on The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection Rhino R2 75339, 1998.
4 Cringely, Robert X. [Mark Stephens] Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date, rev. ed. New York City: HarperBusiness, 1996: 122.
5 Bradford, R.W. "The Geography of Taxes: A Survey of the United States." Liberty April 1993: 17-22; Keefe, Bob. "Down in the Valley." AAS 16 Oct. 2000: D1+; Pizzo, Stephen. "$ilicon Valley." CP Aug. 2000: 48-50+; Sopensky, Emily. "Manufacturers Find a New Way to Spin Gold." ABJ 24 Nov. 2000: 28.
6 Bethell, Tom. "Bearish on California." TAS Oct. 1994: 18+; Wilde, Oscar. "Pictures of Dorian Gray." 1891. Rpt. in The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. 1966. Rpt. New York City: Perennial Library, 1989: 17-167.
7 Gillespie, Nick. "California Dreaming." Reason. Dec. 1998: 58-60+; Liggio, Leonard P. "Isolationism, Old and New, Part I." LAR Winter 1966: 19-35; Popper, Karl. The Open Society and Its Enemies, 5th rev. ed., Vols. I-II. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1966-67; Postrel, Virginia. The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress. New York City: The Free Press, 1998; White, Richard. "It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own": A New History of the American West. Norman, Okla.: U of Oklahoma P, 1991: 378-405
8 Caldwell, Christopher. Book review (Morgan, Dan. Rising in the West: The True Story of an "Okie" Family From the Great Depression Through the Reagan Years.). TAS Mar. 1993: 60-62; Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath and Other Writings 1938-1941. New York City: Library of America, 1996: 207-692; White, op. cit., 477-483.
9 Bethell. "Immigration, Sí; Welfare, No." TAS Nov. 1993: 18-19; Unz, Ron. "California and the End of White America." Commentary. Nov. 1999: 17-28; Unz. "Sinking Our State." Reason Nov. 1994: 46-47.
10 Rubin, Stephen Jay. "Villains and Henchmen." The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia, rev. ed. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1995: 436-438; Sowell, Thomas. The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy. New York City: Basic Books, 1995.
11 Coupland, Douglas. Microserfs. New York City: Regan Books, 1995: 129-130; Rubin. "Zorin, Max." Op. cit., 466-467.
12 "Gray Davis and the Third Way." The Economist 9 Jan. 1999: 27; Stroup, Richard L. "California's Man-Made Drought." Liberty May 1991: 55-57.
13 Gondo, Nancy. "New Software Helps Track Sales Contracts, Leads." IBD 2 Sep. 1999.
14 Ammons, David. AP. "Gates Brings Star Power to Pal Locke's Fund-Raiser." News Tribune Tacoma 9 Nov. 1999: B7.
15 Dunn, Jancee. "Rock the White House." RS 9 Dec. 1999: 23.
16 Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 1997: passim. (A current list of the dead linked to Clinton is at: <http://Alamo-Girl.com/0463.htm as part of the "Downside Legacy Project."); "Eric Clapton." NRSE, 182-184.
17 Drudge used the term before April 1999 on his short-lived TV show for the Fox News cable channel (See Drudge, Matt, and Julia Phillips. The Drudge Manifesto. New York City: New American Library, 2000: 202, and passim.).
18 Alterman, Eric. "Signs of the Times." The Nation 6 Dec. 1999: 9; Elder, Sean. "Out of Time." Salon 21 Dec. 1999. <http://www.salon.com/media/col/elde/1999/12/21/timesprobe/index.html; Postrel, Virginia. "The Ethics of Boosterism." Forbes 7 Feb. 2000: 80.
19 Johnson, Richard, and Jeane MacIntosh. "Times Ax Falls on Abe Rosenthal." NYPO 5 Nov. 1999: 6.
20 "Domestic Box Office." Variety 15 Nov. 1999: 9.
21 Rafferty, Terrence. "GQ Critiques: Movies." GQ Nov. 1999: 191.
22 Bowman, James. "Disney, We Hardly Knew Ye." NR 23 Feb. 1998: 52; Truesdell, Jeff. "The Fabulous Kingdom." Salon. 27 Jan. 2000. <http://www.salon.com/books/int/2000/01/27/fabulous/index.html>.
23 Carlson, Tucker. "Money Can't Buy You Love." TWS 8 Nov. 1999: 26-29; Kusnet, David. "Getting a Leftist Right." Ibid., 31-34.
24 On The Weekly Standard, see Sobran, Joseph. "One-Party Journalism." Sobran's. Nov. 1999: 10.
25 Kristol, William, and Robert Kagan. "Pressuring Taiwan, Appeasing Beijing." TWS 2 Aug. 1999: 5-6.
26 Conason, Joe. "Witless Publisher in Endless Jihad." NYO 29 Nov. 1999: 5.
27 Lowenthal, David et. al. "The Case for Censorship." TWS 23 Aug. 1999: 21-29.
28 Eichman, Erich. "Fox on the Run." TAS Sep. 1992: 28-32; Elder. "The Emperor's New Clothes." Salon 24 Feb. 2000. <http://www.salon.com/media/col/elde/2000/02/24/murdoch/index.html; Ferguson, Andrew. "Crazy Like a Fox." Reason July 1993: 54-55.
29 Buckley, William F. Jr.; and John McClaughrey. "Notes & Asides." NR 8 Nov. 1999: 18.
30 "From a Speech by Murray Rothbard." NR 16 Mar. 1992: S28-S32 (See also Rothbard. Letter to William F. Buckley Jr. NR 13 Apr. 1992: 20; Rothbard. "A Strategy for the Right." Rothbard-Rockwell Report Jan. 1992. Rpt. The Irrepressible Rothbard: The Rothbard-Rockwell Report Essays of Murray N. Rothbard. Ed. Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2000: Ch. 1.); Judis, John B. William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint of the Conservatives. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 1988: 89-92.
31 Buckley. "A Dilemma of Conservatives." The Freeman Aug. 1954: 51-52; Dionne, E.J. Why Americans Hate Politics, rev. ed. New York City: Touchstone Books, 1992: 162-164; Judis, op. cit., 119-180; Nash, George H. The Conservative Intellectual Movement in American Since 1945, 1st ed. New York City: Basic Books, 1976: 123-128.
32 Buckley. Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country. New York City: Random House, 1990.
For a corrective review, see Moulton, William P. "The Gospel of Duty, According to Buckley." Liberty Sep. 1991: 53-55.
33 Buckley. "The Only Way to Bomb Milosevic." NYPO 25 Mar. 1999: 33.
34 Buckley. "The Return of Edgar Smith" and "Edgar Smith, Act III" in A Hymnal: The Controversial Arts. New York City: Putnam, 1978: 395-399; Buckley. "The Return of Edgar Smith." in Inveighing We Will Go. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1972: 346-348.
35 On Flynn: Raimondo, Justin. "John T. Flynn: Exemplar of the Old Right." JLS Fall 1992: 107-124.
On Friedman: Nash, op. cit., 339.
On Sobran: Buckley. In Search of Anti-Semitism. New York City: Continuum, 1992: 3-26; Buckley. 'WFB's Commentary." NR 16 Mar. 1992: S1-30; "An Essay by Joseph Sobran." Ibid., S4-10; Francis, Samuel. "Neo-Con Invasion." The New American 5 Aug. 1996: 27.
On Frank Chodorov: Rothbard. "Frank Chodorov, R.I.P." LAR Winter 1967: 3-8; Taylor, Bobby. "Anti-Imperialism on the Right." Liberty May 1989: 37-42+.
On other purges: Buckley. "Notes Toward an Empirical Definition of Conservatism." Oct. 1963. Rpt. The Jeweler's Eye: A Book of Irresistible Political Reflections. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1968: 15-13; "Some Conservatives and the Real World." The New Guard April 1969. Rpt.. The Governor Listeth: A Book of Inspired Political Revelations. New York City: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1970: 129-134; Francis, Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism. Columbia, Mo.: U of Missouri P, 1993: 225-228; "From a Speech by Murray Rothbard."
On the decline of the "Old Right": "Cold War Revisionism: The Major Historical Task." LAR Spring 1966: 17-30; Francis, Beautiful Losers, passim.; Rothbard. "The Foreign Policy of the Old Right." JLS Spring 1978: 85-96; Rothbard, Irrepresible, op. cit.; Rothbard. "New Right: National Review's Anniversary." LAR Winter 1966: 8-13. Rpt. The Libertarian Alternative. Ed. Tibor Machan. Chicago: Nelson-Hall Co., 1974: 525-549.
On the "conservative crack-up": Francis, Beautiful Losers, passim.; Frum, David. Dead Right. New York City: Basic Books, 1994; McGurn, William. "Pat Buchanan and the Intellectuals." NR 17 Feb. 1992: 41-43; Podhoretz, Norman. "Buchanan and the Conservative Crackup." Commentary May 1992: 30-34; Tyrrell, R. Emmett Jr. The Conservative Crack-Up. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
36 Francis, Beautiful Losers, 225-228; Schlesinger, Arthur M. Jr. The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1949; Postrel. "The Lethal Center." Reason. Aug./Sep. 1995: 4+; Tyrrell, op. cit., 259-271.
For an example of Schlesinger in his heyday, see "The New Isolationism." ATML May 1952: 34-38; "Cold War Revisionism," op. cit.
37 Postrel. "The Lethal Center."
38 Postrel. "Editor's Note." Reason Jan. 2000: 5.
39 Romeo, Darby. "Farewell." Ben is Dead (No. 30) 1999: 130; Romeo, "Obligatory Enlightenment from Your Editress." Retro Hell, vii-viii; Shreve, Jenn. "Burn, Sacred Cow, Burn!" Salon 8 Oct. 1999. <http://www.salon.com/feed/pointcast/337201.html.
40 Gillespie. "Uncompromising Position." Reason July 1996: 26-31.
For reactions: Bradford, R.W. "Browne and Reason." Liberty Sep. 1996: 13-14; Browne, Harry. "For Help, Look to the Mainstream, Not Our Friends." LPN July 1996: 9; Lichtman, Howard Scott et al. "Uncompromised Reactions." Reason. Nov. 1996: 10+; Nolan, David F. "A Critique of Impure Reason." LPN July 1996: 9; Poole, Robert W. Jr. "In Defense of Reason: Commentary Response." LPN Aug. 1996: 15.
Contra Postrel: Raimondo. "The Truth About the 'Cox Report.' " Antiwar.com 19 July 1999. <http://www.antiwar.com/justin/j071999.html>.
41 Compare the December 1993 and January 1994 covers.
42 Postrel. The Future and Its Enemies, 27-53.
43 Tannenhaus. "Damsels in Dissent." VF Nov. 1999: 144.
44 Wilonsky, Robert. "The Trouble with 'Trek'." Salon 29 Oct. 1999: <http://www.salon.com/ent/feature/1999/10/29/trek/index.html.
45 "Counter-Blast." <http://www.davidleeroth.com/index_v2.html; "It's Official - Gary Cherone Quits." Van Halen News Desk 5 Nov. 1999: <http://www.vhnd.com/archive/1199.shtml; "The House Lounge." <http://www.davidleeroth.com/lounge.html; "News." Ziazine! 22 Nov. 1999: 3; Van Halen, Edward. "Forget All of You That Say 3 is Bad." 2 May 1999. Amazon.com <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000002NGS/qid=951667768/sr=1-14/102-5634931-2581643. See also customer reviews for post-David Lee Roth releases by Van Halen at: <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/102-5634931-2581643; "Van Halen's Lead Singer Quits Band." Chicago Sun-Times 6 Nov. 1999 5XS ed.: 24.
46 Corbett, John. "Fanfare for a Warrior." DB Mar. 2000: 22-24+.