07/06/2007 12:24 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Ship Floats

I sure wish I didn't have to work for a living, because then I could take this really cool cruise ship vacation with the folks from the National Review, and they could tell me about how it's good that heiresses don't pay taxes and I do.

This month, Holland America's ms Noordam will be taking the cream of the National Review to Alaska, to enjoy the awesome natural beauty, and because it's the part of America least accessible to Mexicans. Think of it! A week at sea with the earthly remains of William Rusher and Robert Bork. Weirdly, tickets are still available at all price points.

I love ships in general, and it would be specifically fun to watch this one hit some large floating fragment of the ice shelf (due to non-existent climate change) and see how laissez-faire works when the water reaches neck-level and the average age of the rugged individualist is 80.

"Lifeboats? Why would we bring lifeboats? Aren't they just another word for safety net?"

(Okay, and I know there's no oceanographic way the ice shelf could drift into the path of the ms Noordam. But a salesman's got to dream. Maybe a polar bear will eat someone.)

Anyway, as I said, they'll have to go without me. The Laffer Curve hasn't quite kicked in yet, and my share of the national debt keeps getting bigger, and I have to work. But that doesn't mean Arthur Laffer can't shove off. He can.

And that doesn't mean you can't go. The ship leaves Seattle on July 29th, and there must have been something you've done this year to deserve eight days at sea with Ramesh Ponnuru. Like maybe you killed someone.

In a hit-and-run accident.

With a stolen car.

Oh, the fun you'll have. You and all the other steely-eyed realists in the Wars on Terror, Privacy, Social Security and Birth Control. A pack of salty seadogs, with William Buckley as your Captain Jack Sparrow, gayish and undead, but still a load of laughs.

Buckley may only be there in spirit -- like fiscal restraint -- but you'll soon see why the Quotes from Past Cruises section of the ship's website includes raves like this:

"Most speakers made very sincere attempts at hospitality!"


"It is a relief to be able to express a conservative viewpoint with others and not be put down!"

I love what these endorsements promise. Not only will a solid majority of the speakers not cut you cold, but when you're not being barely tolerated by John O'Sullivan, you'll get to hear horrible nobodies whisper the things they don't usually say in public, because they're cruel and ridiculous.

Because nothing says, "courage of one's convictions" like finding the inner strength to express them offshore, in a private hall, to a boatful of people who agree.

Sound like fun?

It can be yours for as little as $2,349 to $9,849. I wish I could go, but I just remembered I'd rather have a dog vomit in my mouth.


Listen: I'm just kidding about the "iceberg" stuff.

And I wouldn't even joke about how if America's enemies were really serious they'd stop mortaring the Green Zone and get over to the Port of Seattle's Terminal 30 on or about 4:00 PM, July 29th.

I know where to draw the line, and it's way, way this side of that. Joking about people getting hurt is wrong. Even when you're just goofing around.

For instance, when Jonah Goldberg writes things for the National Review Online like:

"One of the most important and vital things the United States could do after 9/11 was to kill people."

Or he says:

"If... we have to go to other countries in order to successfully interrogate terrorists, then I'm not horrified by that proposition ... There are lots of things that are ugly and terrible about war. I think the right wing are more comfortable allowing for that."

It's provocative, but if he really meant it, he'd be off to Kabul, not Ketchikan. He's just talkin'. Like when I say I'd be comfortable if a polar bear bit him in the ass.

Dick Morris will also be cruising on the Noordam. He says things like:

"In Iraq a civil war is progress, because it means it's no longer a war against us."

But he's kidding, right? I mean, we're talking about human lives. If he really thought like that, he couldn't even face himself in the mirror over his bed.

The NRO's Rich Lowry is off to sea, but not in the navy or anything. So it's understood that when he writes things like, "Opponents of coercive interrogations want to conjure a just-so world," he's just being saucy.

It's the same when he blames the Virginia Tech shootings on Michel Foucault or Abu Ghraib on the adult film industry, or he says the Gitmo prisoners eat better than the troops -- "orange-glazed chicken, steamed peas and mushrooms, and rice pilaf." He's not trying to be heartless. He's just a creep.

And it's only rhetoric, and the people he wants killed are nobody I know. Do I hope he chokes on the buffet? Of course not.

I like Rich Lowry. And I'm not just saying that. Jesus says I have to. Even when Lowry writes things like:

"Most terrorism suspects can't withstand waterboarding for more than 14 seconds, and KSM impressed his interrogators by holding out for more than two minutes. In a forthright debate, Congress might ban it. On the other hand, we might decide that in extreme cases involving top terrorism suspects, we will subject them to the same waterboarding used on our own military during Survival Evasion Resistance Escape training."

It doesn't even track, logically, from word to word. (It's fearsomely effective but it's also a lark? It breaks fanatics in seconds, but grunts in basic training just shrug it off?) It's indefensible. But do I think it would be funny if Rich Lowry fell off a ship and spent some character-building time under water? Of course I don't.

That's not the kind of world I want to live in. Because if I wished the ms Noordom ill, even in jest, I wouldn't be any better than an animal, or Ann Coulter, when she said:

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

When my sister worked there.

To be fair, Ann was just being funny. And it had been a solid ten months since her column stopped appearing in the National Review Online.


Rich Lowry says calling him a chicken hawk is "juvenile, opportunistic and irrelevant."

How is that different than saying it's not true?