Try ’em already! &c.


A headline earlier this week read, “Charges refiled against accused 9/11 mastermind.” That would be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, although that word “mastermind” bothers me, somehow — too complimentary. The news story began, “Military prosecutors have refiled terrorism and murder charges against the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and four other men under a revamped trial process at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba . . .”

I will give you a Simple Simon view: Justice should be speedier.

Ollanta Humala has a very good line — I hold no brief for him, heaven knows, but he has a very good line. He is the leftist presidential candidate in Peru — a Chávez ally who, in all likelihood, would Chávez-ize his country. Adiós, democracy. Hasta luego, if we’re lucky.

He is running against Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the kleptocratic, disgraced, and jailed former president, Alberto Fujimori (who nonetheless did some necessary and gutty things, against terror). And here is Humala’s line: “There may be doubts about me, but there’s proof about the other side.”

To read about this drama — this campaign — go here.

More on Alberto: Pity what corruption does to a man, and those around him.

This was an arresting headline — the kind you might have to read twice: “Former enemies live in peace in UN detention block.” Reading the story, I thought, “A playwright could get a really good and interesting play out of this” — see what you think:

Once they were enemies, commanding armies locked in deadly struggles. But together behind bars as war crimes suspects, ethnic hatreds largely evaporate among the men whom Ratko Mladic has joined at a high security U.N. jail to await his trial on genocide charges.

There’s table tennis and group classes in English or computing at the detention unit built within the high stone walls of a jail on the outskirts of The Hague, according to a former detainee and a one-time employee.

Another headline: “US, Japanese, German scientists win Israeli prize.” We read, “American, German and Japanese scientists have been named this year’s winners of Israel’s prestigious Wolf Prize.”

I thought back to the Nobel prizes — the early ones, until the mid-Thirties. You may be familiar with a statistic, about Germans and their Nobel prizes. I’ll quote from an article at the website of the Holocaust museum in Washington: “Of the thirty-eight Nobel Prizes won by German writers and scientists between 1905 and 1936, fourteen went to Jews.” Quite a percentage.

Of course, the number of Nobel prizes accorded Germans dropped off very sharply, starting in this mid-Thirties period. Did Germans simply lose interest in science and whatnot?

Up to this day, Jews have won a dizzying — a dizzyingly “disproportionate” — number of Nobel prizes. (You want facts and figures, go here, for example.) This is not because the Scandinavians who choose the winners are biased toward Jews, I can assure you.

And imagine. Just imagine how many more Nobel prizes would have gone to Jews if the Nazis and their allies hadn’t murdered two-thirds of them — a full two-thirds of European Jewry.

Today, there is a Jewish state, and it has given a big prize to a German scientist. The little news article I’ve linked to may seem a nothing — a trifle — but, when you think about it, it contains rather a lot.

Okay, here’s a headline that’s totally dog-bites-man: “France probes ex-minister’s orgy claim.” (Article here.)

This is an old, old issue, one that I have addressed many times — probably not satisfactorily. Anyway, to a letter:


I have a question for you that is called to mind by what you wrote about George W. Bush and how he causes some people to go crazy — to think and say nutty things. The question is, when do we, as conservatives, put our money where our mouths are and cease to retain the services of providers who spout anti-Bush, anti-Republican rhetoric?

I live in Manhattan and run into this issue constantly. People here are casually anti-Republican and can’t imagine that someone they’re talking to might be a conservative.

My (otherwise excellent) personal trainer started frothing about then-President Bush one morning. That certainly played a large role in my ceasing to be a client.

There follow similar stories about a reflexologist (a new word to me), a masseuse, and another masseuse. The writer continues,

So my questions for you, Jay, are:

1) Is it “ideologically correct” to cease to be a client of any such person, on the principle that one does not want to associate with, implicitly sanction, or financially benefit such folks?

2) When parting ways, is it helpful to tell them the reason? Should these be “teachable moments”?

3) Is it appropriate to inquire into the political views of other service providers, or should one merely wait for inappropriate, or deal-breaking, comments?

I know you can take things too far. I mean, if I engaged in commercial transactions only with people who share my political beliefs, I would not be able to function for a day or an hour in this town.

Yes. I think part of what it means to be a conservative is that you don’t live politically. Leave that to the “other side.” (Sorry for such Manichean language.) I grew up with a slogan: “The personal is the political,” or “The political is the personal,” or whatever it was. Everything was political: what you ate, what you drove, what you wore, the music you listened to — everything.

Part of my maturing was to reject all this. It’s one reason I became a conservative in the first place. (I think I’m a genuine liberal, but those taxonomical debates are long, long over.)

I know I’ve told you this story in Impromptus before: Years ago, a friend and I were talking about whether to buy Ben & Jerry’s. He grew up in Vermont. We both love Ben & Jerry’s. But we don’t love so much what the company does with its earnings, or once did. (I don’t know about present Ben & Jerry’s politics.) They used to back left-wing causes, I’m pretty sure.

And we decided, Of course we’ll buy and eat Ben & Jerry’s, with pleasure. We did not want to be like the Left, allowing politics to rule our decisions, to warp life in general. Ice cream trumped politics, by a lot.


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