The Latest Tweets from Team NRO . . .
Wonder What Happened to Khrestyalov?
It’s funny the things that stick in your mind. The one detail about
Stalin’s death that I always remember is from the account in Khrushchev’s
memoirs. I know, I know, the old peasant needs to be taken with a large
grain of salt, but this one rings true. The Politburo is round Stalin’s
bedside. When it becomes clear that the old rogue has breathed his last,
first out of the door is Beria, who was confident that everything would now
come to him. Khrushchev heard him going off down the corridor, shouting out
triumphantly to his valet: “Khrestyalov! My car!”
Inebriate of Air Am I
This is probably one of those things that native Americans know from age 8,
but it was a revelation to me. A reader has told me that all of Emily
Dickinson’s poems can be sung to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” It
checks out. Amazing! Since presumably the same is true for anything in
iambic tetrameters, you could likewise sing Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin” to
that tune. We learn something new every day.
My Amazon.com sales rank is 41,457. Believe it or not, that’s a very
respectable number for a book that won’t be available till next month. This
must be due to NRO readers pre-ordering. God bless you all, and THANK YOU!
Now go order some more. You have friends & relatives, don’t you? (I am
trying to get the misleading blurb fixed.)
New York Times Stalin Obit, 1953
If I recall correctly, that was the only occasion on which the NYT came out
with a black border–right, Kathryn? (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.)
Axis of Evil
David Frum makes a good point about the possibility of al Quaeda and Iran working together undermining the glib skepticism from some quarters that the Axis of Evil wasn’t really an Axis. People who say it’s inconceivable that fanatical theocrats like al Quaeda would work with secular Iraq’s Baathists need to take a look at the Hitler-Stalin Pact to understand that common enemies make for common bonds.
Regardless, I have this weird feeling that there may be a whole lot of Axis-ing going on. Here’s one entirely unsubstantiated theory: North Korea is hassling us because Saddam has asked it to. We’ve heard all sorts of punditry about how Saddam is trying to undermine Western resolve by encouraging the anti-war crowd. Well, it’s certainly true that the “North Korea is a bigger threat” talking point is used in Congress, the UN and the op-ed pages every day. The more provocative Nort Korea’s behavior, the more compelling that talking point is.
So why not offer North Korea a few million in hard currency and maybe some promises of cheap or free oil assuming Saddam can stay in power? Perhaps Saddam is offering to pay top dollar for North Korea’s new nukes when they come on line and North Korea wants to make sure the US doesn’t take out its best customer.
North Korea, with its nuclear deterrence and a supine South Korea, might reason it can challenge the US quite a bit without risking an attack. Besides, it’s strategy to shake down the US is still operative. It just has more than one incentive for its misbehavior, because common enemies create common friends.
Feet of Clay
Stanley Kurtz watches Spongebob! That’s like discovering that Hegel played
tiddleywinks. You have burst my bubble, Stanley.
OK, my new book is up on Amazon for pre-ordering. Please ignore the stuff
under “editorial reviews,” which is all nonsense. I am NOT an “investment
banker.” I do NOT respond to begging letters. And Bernhard Riemann was NOT
obsessed with the Hypothesis, and did not “devote his life” to topics in
number theory. The 1859 paper was in fact his only venture into Number
Theory, and there is no evidence he gave it a moment’s thought after
publishing that paper. “In lapidary inscriptions, a man is not upon
oath”—Dr. Johnson. The same, apparently, applies to publishers’
What If The Other Eight Start Doing It?
Dumbest email so far today: “In your most recent column on National Review
Online, you stated: ‘Why a crab would be selling patties made from members
of his own species is not explained.’ Surely the Hon. Supreme Court Justice
Clarence Thomas, who continuously makes rulings against the interests of his
own race, can relate to the experience of Mr. Krabs and explain it for you.
If ‘the silent justice’ refuses, then maybe you could ask Miguel Estrada …
that is once he decides to reveal his views.” So now you know: a Justice
of the U.S. Supremem Court is supposed to rule in “the interests of his own
race.” Liberalism unmasked.
The Derb & Bob
Thanks Derb. Reading you has helped me to nurture my inner pessimist. By the way, loved your Spongebob Squarepants piece. Spongebob is hilarious. But I’m horrified by the political correctness of much of the rest of children’s television.
Thanks to my two recent NRO pieces on Korea, I’ve been doing an unusual amount of radio. Just got off the Eric Hogue show in Sacramento, and I can tell you that ordinary Californians are boiling mad about public school teachers who are canceling classes to encourage their students to take part in anti-war demonstrations. Looks like the same sort of politicized faculty nonsense we’ve been seeing so openly at colleges and universities is now filtering down to high schools. Of course, K-12 education in the United States has been corrupted by leftist teachers for years. But the politicization wasn’t quite as obvious as in colleges. Now it is.
On My Mind
Top email so far this morning, from reader Fred Bartlett: “Since you also
know a little (or a little about) Georgian, I’m surprised you didn’t mention
Repentance, which is a mildly surrealistic movie about a Stalin-like
dictator from 1984. Directed by Tenqiz Abuladze and starring Avtandil
Makharadze and Zienab Botsvadze. The title makes it a great movie to watch
on Ash Wednesday. It’s in Georgian with English subtitles — though every
video guide I’ve ever looked it up in has claimed that it’s in Russian. The
poor Georgians just don’t get any respect. Incidentally, did you know that
the Georgian for ‘Hello!’ (gamarjoba) is etymologically related to
’Victory!’ (gamarjveba)? Do you suppose we should adopt that? Especially
when greeting French folk?”
Key essay by Stanley
Kurtz, who is worth ten average pundits, on NRO today. Stanley points out
something just dawning on a lot of Americans–how LONELY this fight is going
to be. Name almost any country in the world: there are strong reasons of
interest for them NOT joining us in the coming fight. If we fight, we fight
alone. If we don’t fight, sooner or later we shall lose a city. We are in
a cleft stick. This is a truly horrible situation.
Andrew: Yes, Burnt by the Sun also terrific, but no Stalin. I think
there is one of those fundamental human divides here. Some people like to
see the monster in a horror movie, some just like to have it suggested.
I want to see the monster. And BTW, best Stalin play: David Pownall’s
MASTER CLASS. It was written for
radio, but I saw it done on stage in London, with Peter Bull doing Stalin to
perfection. The theater was full of Russian expats. Every time Stalin
hoicked up his withered arm, they all breathed “Aaaaaah!” in unison.