Calling a spade a spade, &c.


Now the administration is doing so; and it has acquired other critics.

In that news article, I was particularly struck by this sentence: “Conservative commentators have long talked about ‘Islamo-fascism,’ and Bush’s phrase was a slightly toned-down variation on that theme.”

I wonder why it should be conservatives who talk about, and cry against, “Islamo-fascism.” Surely liberals are as opposed to that ideology as we. Indeed, many conservatives have spent much of their lives being called “fascist” by liberals — just because we support the Republican party.

I especially liked — “liked” — a professor from Georgetown University, Stephen J. Wayne. He said, “Most people are against fascists of whatever form. By definition, fascists are bad. If you’re going to demonize, you might as well use the toughest words you can.”

Demonize? Is that what we’re doing — demonizing? I thought it was more like identifying. Does Professor Wayne consider the Nazis demonized?

You have to wonder whether, after years of Islamofascist atrocity, certain people will ever wake up and smell the coffee.

Hugo Chávez has behaved like a dictatorial, Castroite thug for a long time, but now he has finally done it — he has really ticked me off.

As the AP tells it — the article is here

Three major Caracas golf courses, long favored by the city’s wealthy [yeah, yeah], are being expropriated to build housing for thousands of poor and middle-class Venezuelans, officials said Tuesday.

The city expropriations, which will likely generate new friction between supporters and opponents of President Hugo Chávez, are part of an ambitious government effort to provide more homes amid an acute housing shortage that has driven up real-estate prices.

Mayor Juan Barreto’s office has ordered the “forced acquisition” of two golf courses and will soon issue another decree expropriating a third course in the ritzy hills of southern Caracas, city attorney Juan Manuel Vadell told the Associated Press.

In related news, a reader sent me the following passage from John Adams, quoted by the economist Walter E. Williams in his column:

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be sacred, or liberty cannot exist.”

Which reminds me to re-remind you of the conversation between Milton Friedman and Larry Arnn I mentioned in yesterday’s Impromptus. For that confab, go here.

Yesterday, I saw the following headline: “Sen. Barack Obama Electrifies Kenyans.” I’m thinking, “Whoa, they didn’t have electricity down there?” (Maybe it’s over there, or even up there — I don’t have a globe handy. And what do I know from geography?) Senator Obama must be like a one-man Tennessee Valley Authority.

I have much to say about Naguib Mahfouz, the great novelist who died yesterday, and I will say it in the forthcoming National Review. Suffice it to say that his Cairo Trilogy provided one of the greatest, richest, most satisfying fictional reading experiences of my life.

I was interested to read yesterday the obituary of Alfred Sherman, the former Communist who became an apostle of Thatcherism. I quote:

Sherman returned disillusioned from the [Spanish Civil War] in 1938, but it would be another nine years before he was expelled from the Communist party “for attacking Yugoslavia, and much else beside,” he said in an interview in the Guardian newspaper in 2000.

“We were pawns in many ways,” he later wrote. “It took me nearly another decade before I realized what a cheat and liar Stalin was.”

I’ve often thought about why some got out of the Party — grew out of the Party, woke out of it — and why some didn’t. For example, why did Robert Conquest go on to become the toweringly great man he is today? And why is E. J. Hobsbawm — perhaps the world’s most honored historian, and maybe its most influential — still defending Stalin?

A topic to puzzle over for a lifetime, I guess.

Every now and then, a good conservative will write and say, “Jay, why do you and others call them the ‘Democratic party,’ instead of the ‘Democrat party’?” I have addressed this issue a number of times. The current president is a glorious sayer of “Democrat party” (and “Democrat ideas,” etc.). And Bob Dole is an all-time champion — you surely remember “Democrat wars.”

Generally speaking, “Democrat” is the noun and “Democratic” the adjective. Some confusion arises, I think, because “Republican” is both the noun and the adjective. And some Republicans suspect that the Democrats are trying to pull a fast one, by referring to themselves as “Democratic,” making you think of “democratic” — a very good thing to be. Frankly, my friends, “republican” is also an excellent thing to be.

Why am I going into all this now? Because, in the August 28 issue of National Review, I had a piece on Lynn Swann, the ex-football star who is now the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania. That piece was reprinted in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review — and they changed a “Democratic” to “Democrat.” (They also did some other things.)

A supplementary note: We at NR had titled this piece “Swann Rising.” The newspaper added a question mark, making it “Swann Rising?”

And I have read some commentary to the effect of, “Nordlinger must be smokin’ reefer — Swann’s not rising anywhere. He doesn’t stand a chance.”

I’m not so sure about that. But, more important, I suggest a broader perspective: Swann was born in Alcoa, Tenn., the son of a janitor. He had a laureled athletic career. He has since been in broadcasting, public speaking, charitable works, and several other things. And now he is a major-party nominee for governor in one of our major states.

Think where he came from, ladies and gentlemen. Rising, indeed. And if he loses in November — he will continue to rise, I wager, nevertheless.

There’s something that a friend of mine brought to my attention, that I’d like to share with you. It is the eulogy delivered by Rabbi Marvin Hier for Simon Wiesenthal, the great “Nazi-hunter,” as he was known. You will find the full eulogy here.

And this is how it concludes:

One day Simon called and said that he would like to celebrate his 90th birthday with a few friends in Vienna. It was at a time when he could no longer travel and his wife was bedridden. I asked him where he would like to celebrate. He said, “I have one unfulfilled wish, to have a party at the Imperial Hotel.” Before I had a chance to ask why the Imperial, he told me that it was Hitler’s favorite hotel and that both he and Himmler had permanent suites there. They built enormous bunkers beneath the hotel, which still exist today, because Hitler thought that this would serve as an ideal headquarters from where he could conduct the Second World War.

During the Third Reich, it would have been unthinkable, Simon said, for a Jew to be seen at the Imperial Hotel. “And I want to make sure,” he said, “that all the taboos of the Third Reich are broken and that the record of this hotel would affirm that Simon Wiesenthal celebrated his 90th birthday here with a Kosher dinner.”

On the night of the dinner, when the band played a favorite Yiddish song, “Belz, Mein Shtele Belz” (Belz, My Little Shtetl Belz), he looked up at the ceiling, turned to me, and said: “You see even the chandeliers are shaking because this is the first time they have ever heard such music here. Let the record read,” he said, “that Hitler is no longer here, but even in the Imperial Hotel, Jews are still alive and still singing.”

Would you care for a little mail?

Jayno [?] –

Read your column in which you mentioned “the Ukraine” versus “Ukraine.” I attended the Interlochen Arts Academy, and in 1964 or so we had a visit from the directors of the Moscow and Leningrad conservatories. The Moscow director was a fortysomething female, blockish, and unattractive with a vengeance. The Leningrad director was about 70, patrician, and obviously a sweetheart. At one point while the gentleman talked, he referred in passing to “Petrograd,” and the apparatchik interrupted immediately, “Leningrad!” We all got it.

No doubt.

And check out this:

Dear Jay:

You were talking about John Updike’s novel Terrorist. Well, I checked it out from the library and it put me to sleep on the light rail. (I’m in Denver, which got nuked in Clancy’s Sum of All Fears and is nuked again in this new TV show set in Kansas, I think. What’s up with that?) Got off the train without the book. So for the next couple of weeks I was calling RTD Lost and Found:

Me: “Have you found a library book on the train?”

Them: “Title?”

Me: “Umm . . . ‘Terrorist.’”

The last time I called was the day they broke the London airline bomb plot. I gave up and paid for the book.

Happy Labor Day Weekend, y’all, and I’ll see you.


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