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Leo Strauss



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Personally, I find myself growing more and more skeptical about Strauss. However, I grow ever more confident that Shadia Drury is nothing more than a cheap academic defamer — at best. In this interview — sadly linked on ALD — something called opendemocracy.net runs an uncritical game of patty-cake with Drury, Strauss’ premier leftwing enemy. For a sober appraisal of Strauss, see the long and fittingly dry — but nonetheless thorough and insightful — essay in the Public Interest which Stan posted here before.

North Korea Sends a Message to Bangkok Summit



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There Must Be a Better Way



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Surgical approach to better English-speaking.

Web Briefing: November 26, 2014

Hamas Fulbright



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More details to the story of the bombing in Gaza last week–and beyond.

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The Uglification of D.C.



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I don’t get to spend a lot of down time in D.C. anymore (I lived there for a time), usually more like cabbing or Metroing from Amtrak to meeting or event etc. But I was there on Saturday and was reminded, as I passed some of my favorite spots, how ugly the city has become–largely since 9/11. Now, the Capital building is under construction, but places like the Washington Monument are now blockaded with ugly white slab walls, as a security precaution. Unless those walls are downright indestructible, I doubt they’re worth the eyesore. It doesn’t help either, people’s attitude toward their government, I suspect–further distancing them from it.

Blair Heart Scare



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France Vs. The Queen



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Best part from The Sun:

But De Villepin’s biggest surprise came when he claimed his country shares with Britain “a refusal to surrender.”

He seemed to forget France’s surrender to Germany by signing an armistice in June 1940.

De Villepin, 49, also claimed France was a “reliable” ally to the US, despite leading opposition to the Iraq war.

He made no mention of how furious Americans famously branded French president Jacques Chirac and his cronies as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.”

Switzerland...



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Re Re Kurtz



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Tim: I agree with you — as i suggested before — that the Clinton-hatred V. Bush-hatred parallel annoys me. I really think they’re apples and oranges (it’s sort of like those absurd comparisons between Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton because both were babyboomers). And, I think you’re right to the extent that Brooks sounds like he’s scoring cheap points by triangulating here (but I give him the benefit of the doubt that he was more detailed than how he was quoted). After all, Republicans supported (or lead) Clinton on most of his major accomplishments. As we know from Legacy, crime, welfare reform and Nafta were conservative Republican issues which Clinton simply signed on to. Bob Dole shamed Clinton into going into Yugoslavia. And, even National Review (and the Weekly Standard) supported Clinton on the Iraqi airstrikes, Kosovo, etc. The New Republic supported Bush on the war, but not so much afterward. While the Washington Monthly, the American Prospect and — duh — the Nation have been gnashing their teeth about almost every single Bush initiative, domestic and foreign.

But, nevertheless, many of these points are ones conservatives should be making to Kurtz rather than ones Kurtz should be expressing himself. Look: I think it would be wonderful if the Washington Post or some other major paper actually hired a Tim Graham to do serious conservative media criticism. But I do think that compared to the alternatives Kurtz is at least a straight shooter. To me, it’s the difference between, say, Chris Matthews and Tim Russert. Matthews doesn’t even know how to ask a fair question anymore. Russert may ask the wrong question, but I trust that he’s approaching the issue in good faith. Kurtz may have his biases, but I don’t think they’re ideologically significant.

Aw Shucks



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Kind words from Kevin Holtsberry. But — my jokes are bad?

Sound Familiar?



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Tony Snow on FoxNews Sunday mentioned this article from LIFE
Magazine
, January 7th, 1946, that has been made available by
bloggerJessica’s Well. Here
is an excerpt from href=”http://www.kultursmog.com/Life-Page02.htm”>the editorial
introduction
:

On Germany, which plunged the Continent into its misery,
falls the blame for its own plight and the plight of all Europe. But if
this winter proves worse even than the war years, blame will fall on the
victor nations. Some Europeans blame Russia for callousness to misery in
eastern Europe. But some also blame America because they expected so
much more from her.
Here are a few excerpts from href=”http://www.kultursmog.com/Life-Page01.htm”>the article by LIFE
correspondent, novelist John Dos Passos:

The troops returning home are worried. “We’ve lost the
peace,” men tell you. “We can’t make it stick.” A tour of the beaten-up
cities of Europe six months after victory is a mighty
sobering experience for anyone. Europeans. Friend and foe alike, look
you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are
disappointed in you as an American. They cite the evolution of the word
“liberation.” Before the Normandy landings it meant to be freed from the
tyranny of the Nazis. Now it stands in the minds of the civilians for
one thing, looting. . . .

When the British and American came the Viennese felt that at last they
were in the hands of civilized people. But instead of coming in with a
bold plan of relief and reconstruction we came in full of evasions and
apologies. . . .

We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the
cure has been worse than the disease.

There’s more where
these came from.

Another Post Shocker



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Manny Fernandez offers another press-release-sounding article on the antiwar movement, with no suggestion that anyone in it is “liberal” or “left,” with the exception of “antiwar.” But as he turns to the counter-demo by “conservative” Freepers, he adds this shocking paragraph:

“Among the many antiwar groups, ANSWER, which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, is one of the most controversial, enraging critics such as [Free Republic's] Taylor, who say it is a bastion of communists and anti-Semites. Among hundreds of ANSWER’s coalition co-signers, including historian Howard Zinn and city council members from Boston and Berkeley, Calif., are the socialist Workers World Party, the New Communist Party of the Netherlands and the German Communist Party.”

Hoagland, Again...



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has an excellent column, this time critiquing the contempt felt for Iraqi exiles by lefty intellectuals, and our own State Department:

“Day after day, administration spokesmen make it clear the White House is being told — and is agreeing — that it must not trust the Iraqis whom U.S. forces fought to liberate. Some officials trash the Governing Council that the administration put in place, evidently to avoid having to give it real power anytime soon.

“The Governing Council is not seen as legitimate by the Iraqi people. They’re not ready to take power,” according to an unnamed senior official quoted by the State Department correspondent of the New York Times earlier this month.

Talk about disloyal leaks from the upper echelons. How would you like to be dodging bombs in Baghdad while trying to write a constitution so that Colin Powell’s people can deliberately undermine you in complete anonymity?

The reasons for this distrust are varied. But much of it stems from the prominent role that Iraqi exiles such as Ayad Alawi, Ahmed Chalabi, Adnan Pachachi and Abdul Aziz Hakim play on the Governing Council. Bitter foes as they fought for scarce external support while they were living abroad, they have forged a relatively good working relationship since they came home. But a lingering prejudice in Iraq against political exiles blocks significant recognition of this positive development….”

Post-Cinema Derb



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Like Reagan and Schwarzenegger, he has gone on to higher things.

Re: Kurtz



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Kurtz is pretty balanced in this case, and it’s especially nice to see him let Ramesh and others get in some spicy licks on the other side. But I would argue this is not exactly par for the course. Kurtz (like Tom Rosenstiel, then at the LA Times) felt Clinton’s pain exquisitely in 1992, constantly complaining about how the press had been too tough on the Man from Hope. He’s not hopelessly clueless on conservatives (see Terry Smith on PBS), but he’s usually comfortable in the groupthink of the liberal media he reports on.

Some of what people on both sides say is just wrong to me.
Brooks is wrong that Clinton-hatred stopped support for some good things he did (welfare reform? NAFTA? balanced budgets?). Or is he thinking of Kosovo? On most occasions, when Clinton did something conservative leaders thought was good, they voted for it. It’s also bunk for Hertzberg to insist Bush hatred isn’t “personal” like Clinton’s. Hasn’t he seen all the vitriol about Bush’s walking, talking, and his resemblance to “smirking chimps”?

Kurtz’s best sentence is noticing that the press hasn’t discovered “Bush haters,” as reporters noticed “Clinton haters” starting in 1994. For a historical look at how the concept of “Clinton haters” erupted in the press (through mid-1998), see my study here.

Word On The Street...



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The Washington Post will have a piece on Easterbrook in the morning.

Steyn On The Saudis



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Here’s Mark Steyn once again throwing away the chance of an all-expenses paid vacation in ‘Saudi’ Arabia. Most interesting is what he has to say about the (alleged – let us remember) chaplain problems at Guantanamo.


“So how come two years after Sept. 11 groups with terrorist ties are still able to insert their recruiters into America’s military bases, prisons and pretty much anywhere else they get a yen to go? It’s not difficult to figure out: Wahhabism is the most militant form of Islam, the one followed by all 19 of the 9/11 terrorists and by Osama bin Laden. The Saudis — whose state religion is Wahhabism — fund the spread of their faith in lavishly endowed schools and mosques all over the world and, as a result, traditionally moderate Muslim populations from the Balkans to South Asia have been dramatically radicalized. How could the federal government be so complacent as to subcontract the certification of chaplains in U.S. military bases to Wahhabist institutions?”


That may be too harsh. I suspect that it’s not just a question of complacency (although it would not be the first time that the administration has displayed that particular sin in this particular struggle), but also unease in the face of an ideology that comes draped in religious clothing. Religions, this country likes to think, are almost always a force for the good. As a result, there is no enthusiasm for challenging the bona fides of ideologues who cite a god as their inspiration. That’s a credit to the positive influence of the First Amendment on this country’s democracy, but it’s also nonsense – and it means that the US remains hopelessly unprepared to deal with the challenge of Islamic extremism.


Steyn has this suggestion:


“Here’s an easy way to make an effective change: Less Wahhabism is in America’s interest. More Wahhabism is in the terrorists’ interest. So why can’t the United States introduce a policy whereby, for the duration of the war on terror, no organization directly funded by the Saudis will be eligible for any formal or informal role with any federal institution? “

He has a point.


And, while, we’re on the topic of the Saudis, how about those 28 pages from the 9/11 report, Mr. President?


Boykin



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The Boykin business rumbles on. Here’s the case for the prosecution, made by the usually sensible Fareed Zakaria, and thus it’s well worth reading. But does it stand up? Let’s take three points:

1. Given his position, Boykin shouldn’t have suggested that God was somehow involved in elevating George W. Bush to the presidency.

It’s not the explanation I’d go for, but then I’m not a religious person. A belief that God routinely intervenes in human events is fairly common amongst people of faith. If not, why bother to pray? Under these circumstances, therefore, Boykin’s comments may have been undiplomatic (and could certainly be construed, perhaps unfairly, as inappropriately partisan), but they are not that outlandish.

2. Boykin has revealed anti-Islamic prejudices.

There may be other comments by him out there, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s the terrorists he’s describing as Satanic, not Islam as a whole. Now, in my view, Old Nick is not the problem. It’s better to look at psychosis, self-importance, a love of violence and grotesque personal inadequacy as explanations for the bin Laden crowd. Nevertheless, given that Satan is regularly described in this country as the personification of evil, Boykin’s opinions seem unexceptional. For what it’s worth, here’s a prominent Saudi who seemed to have very similar views. Needless to say this has not stopped the Saudis attacking Boykin. The LA Times reports that one “Adel Al-Jubeir, a foreign policy advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, told reporters in Washington on Friday that Boykin’s comments were “outrageous.” The hypocrisy of the Saudis know no limits.

3. Boykin has a rather shaky grasp of ecumenical principles.

Well yes, ‘guilty’ on that one, but is ecumenicism this country’s state religion? Zakaria may prefer the ‘we are all one family’ pap he quotes from Joe Lieberman – and, yes, such an approach is certainly more tactful, but there is something refreshing about someone who is prepared to say that the other guy’s faith is flat-out wrong. That’s a view Boykin is perfectly entitled to, so long as he accepts that, under the American system, the other guy has a right to express his opinions too. So far as we know, he does.

Case not proved, I reckon, but Boykin has agreed to stop talking to religious groups and to tone down his remarks on religion. That’s wise.


After Mjoelk, Smoek



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More important action from the EU.

Via Blogger Bill Dawson (the headline’s his fault too…)

Game 1



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My two observations: 1) I have now become a connoisseur of Alfonso Soriano strike-outs, and I have to say that I enjoy the strike-outs looking the most because it means–for once–that he’s not swinging at something low and a foot outside; 2) There are two possible templates for what’s about to happen–either Game 1 of the Twins-Yankees series, after which there was much commentary about how the Twins were faster, fresher, and younger than the Yankees, but the Yankes went on to win anyway, or something like the 1990s Reds-A’s series, where the underdog built up an unstoppable head-of-steam….

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