What O believes, &c.

President Obama delivers his State of the Union address, February 12, 2013.



It is a longstanding theme of this column: Nobody, but nobody, cares about abuses of Palestinians — that is, abuses of them by the people who rule them, namely Fatah and Hamas. The world is ever alert for abuses of Palestinians by Israelis. But if other Palestinians are doing the abusing? Yawns, nothing but yawns.

From Tom Gross, I learned that “a Palestinian court has sentenced a man from a village near Nablus to a year in prison for insulting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Facebook . . .”

A year, huh? What’d he do, exactly? The man’s lawyer “said her client was accused of photo-shopping Abbas wearing a Real Madrid shirt with the caption: ‘A new striker.’”

That gets you a year, in what must be a hellhole of abuse? What would get you five? Revealing the sole of your shoe to him?

I hadn’t thought of polygraph tests in years, before reading this story about an American who tried to spy for China: “Underwood came under suspicion when a polygraph examination by U.S. law enforcement agents detected deception in some of his answers.”

This used to be a hot topic. William Safire wrote about it a lot. I remember hearing about how William Casey, the CIA director, would entertain visitors by strapping himself up to a polygraph (if I have used the right words) and beating it.

The line the polygraph defenders used? A line I bought, and still buy? “It all depends on the skill of the operator. Polygraph tests are not infallible. But a polygraph test can be a significant tool in the hands of a skilled operator.”

I hasten to say — you knew this already — I am not an expert.

Did you know this? Bill Casey was National Review’s first lawyer.

I saw a headline: “Gun victims, academics join Senate firearms clash.” (Article here.) I imagine there are people we should call gun victims. I mean, we can imagine circumstances in which people really are victims of guns. But, in the main, aren’t we talking about people who are victims of other people who have used guns? A gun is an instrument: and has been known both to take and to save innocent lives. The women Jack the Ripper killed were not knife victims; they were victims of Jack the Ripper.

Or am I not thinking clearly?

In Britain, there is a rising Conservative member of Parliament named Jesse Norman. How rising? An article in The Spectator asked, “Could Jesse Norman be the next Tory leader?”

It would be hard to get used to another Jesse Norman. Jessye Norman, the soprano, has been so well-known, and for so long. And a Jesse Norman of the other sex! And another nationality, and race!

Yes, an adjustment would be hard . . .

A reader writes,

A few months ago I got a form letter from Planned Parenthood which began, in bold type: “The election results made it crystal clear: The American people don’t want politicians to meddle in our personal health care decisions.”

Funny — the results seemed to me to say exactly the opposite.

Another letter? In a column and a blogpost — here and here — I wrote about Robert W. Ramey, a pilot from the naval air base in Sanford, Fla. I quoted Wikipedia: Ramey “lost his life by electing to guide his crippled A3D Skywarrior away from a residential area.” By staying with his plane, he “not only gave his flight crew time to bail out of the aircraft, but also saved the lives of numerous families in the residential community.”

A reader writes me about John Ferrier, a man who did something similar. Ferrier kept a card in his wallet that said, “I’m Third” — i.e., behind God and one’s fellow man. Our reader says,

I heard about Johnny Ferrier when I was a young boy at summer camp in the 1960s. This was Kanakuk Kamp, in the Ozarks. Here is a link to the story. The story was part of the camp’s lore, and it is still being told there, as an inspiration to young people. (Both of my children went there.)

Johnny Ferrier was a camper at Kanakuk as a young boy, and his son Zach — who was only a baby when his father died — was my friend and fellow camper. I still have my “I’m Third” card, just like the one Johnny Ferrier carried, 50 years later.

Again, the link to the story is here.

Feel like ending on a little language? In an e-mail to a friend a few days ago, I said “Manhattan-bound” and “Connecticut-bound” — as in going to Manhattan and going to Connecticut. But “bound” can mean something like the opposite: You’re bound to a place, you’re confined to a place. You’re homebound. Or are you bound for home?

Crime-ridden means to be full of crime. When your home is mice-ridden, it’s full of mice. Yet to be rid of something . . .

Ach, English! I do love you, bedeviling as you can be.

I say the same to you, dear readers. Thanks, and see you.

To order Jay Nordlinger’s book Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.