Impromptus

Hagel aboard, &c.

by Jay Nordlinger

This was in the news, over the weekend: “U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to get a rare tour Monday of China’s first aircraft carrier, becoming the first foreign visitor to go aboard the ship.” (Story here.)

I had a lugubrious thought: “Will he emerge saying, ‘I have seen the future, and it works’?”

In China, Hagel said, “The American rebalance to Asia Pacific, our strategic interests, is not to contain China.” His counterpart said that China “can never be contained.” (Story here.)

Darkly, I’m inclined to believe both men . . .

Here’s a cheery headline! “Hezbollah: Danger to Syria’s president eliminated.” The story’s opening sentence: “The government of Syrian President Bashar Assad is no longer in danger of falling, the leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said in an interview with a Lebanese newspaper.”

The West is very, very proud of its nonintervention. And that very much includes the American Right.

No blood for oil, man! No blood for Likud, man! Rah!

Apparently, more than 150,000 people have been killed in Syria — which is not all that populous a country. I remember writing in this column how shocked I was when the number approached 10,000.

People such as Polly Toynbee say how great it is that the warmongers in the West were prevented from “bombing Syria.” (She is quoted in a Dan Hodges post, here.) In reality, Assad is the one who “bombs Syria.”

I think of my Cuban-American friends, who burn at President Obama — who refers to the Castro dictatorship as “Cuba.” Speech of this kind matters a lot.

So, Rand Paul thinks Vice President Cheney favored the Iraq War because of Halliburton? (Story here.) Jennifer Rubin quotes Liz Cheney as saying, “Senator Paul often seems to get his foreign-policy talking points from Rachel Maddow.” (Here.)

I’m not sure that’s fair to Maddow. Is she that crude?

Here is a story about one of the many Palestinians whom the Israeli government has released from prison. This one helped kill an innocent man. He is now reformed. In the words of the story, “Mansour said he has no regrets, but also that he would never take another life.”

Well, that’s nice. “One innocent man is A-OK, but one is enough!”

The story further tells us that, to celebrate his release, his family slaughtered 25 goats. Better goats than Jews, I guess.

I think I have written in this space about Rutgers University and Condoleezza Rice. The former secretary of state is scheduled to give the university’s commencement address. Faculty have protested mightily.

Faculty are also protesting at the University of Minnesota, where Rice is also scheduled to speak. I think I have my favorite headline of the year so far. It comes from the Daily Caller: “Bitter white liberals urge University of Minnesota to rescind Condi Rice speaking invitation.”

Check out the story’s opening sentence: “A small group of angry white liberals is trying to force the administration at the University of Minnesota to revoke a speaking invitation extended to Condoleezza Rice . . .”

Heh.

This, however, is a perfectly modern opening sentence: “Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez has agreed to be the godmother of a lesbian couple’s baby in a Roman Catholic cathedral.” (Story here.)

I have a question, but first, I have another news article: “Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid a visit to the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam . . .” The prime minister “said it was ‘regrettable, quite regrettable’ that 300 copies of Anne Frank’s diary were vandalized recently in Tokyo libraries.”

All my life, I have read about anti-Semitism in Japan — where there have hardly ever been any Jews, and where The Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been a hot seller.

Why?

Here was a headline that cheered me: “French Greens bickering, divided as EU vote looms.” And in the story — an Associated Press report — I smiled at seeing this: “. . . potentially deflating the ability of avowed tree-huggers to shape policy at a time of rising environmental concerns.”

“Tree-huggers”! And in an AP report! I also like the term “green beans” — which I have heard Karl Rove, and no one else, use.

I have a beef with the “environmental movement”: I am pro-environment, and anti-pollution, and think we ought to be “good stewards of the earth.” But, in my lifetime, the environmentalists have been so extreme, I have been forced to be “anti-environmentalist.”

You know?

Let’s have some music: For my latest blogpost at The New Criterion, go here. This one is about a performance of Die schöne Müllerin, the Schubert song-cycle, and related issues. Kind of interesting (you might find).

A little language? A friend of mine — a writer and editor — wrote me, “Jay, I just stumbled on this video, and was reminded of you: You told me that someone had once given you grief for writing that a particular figure ‘saw the world clear.’ Hope you enjoy the video!”

Yes, I did — it’s about “flat adverbs.”

There are always people who want to screw up good prose, or poetry. There is always someone who wants to take “Some folks’ lives roll easy” and say, “No, ‘easily’!” — which ruins it. There’s always someone who wants to take “Do not go gentle into that good night” and ruin it with “gently.”

Resist, resist.

A little sports? I like what Miguel Cabrera, the Detroit Tiger star, said about getting his 2,000th hit. He told the press, “After I finish my career, it will be great to look back. But right now, I’ve got a job to do tomorrow. That’s the only way I can stay focused. I’ve got to do my job. It’s your job to write about it.”

I am still reeling from this story, published by the AP. It is about a Rwandan woman whose baby was killed in the genocide, and whose right hand was hacked off. She has forgiven the man who did both — and is now friends with him. Read it, and marvel. There is no need of commentary from me.

But I do need to thank you for joining me, and to say, catch you soon.