This is such a strange war, our war in Afghanistan. The way the Associated Press puts it is, Secretary Hagel is dealing with “the jarring difficulties of shutting down a war.” Shutting down? I guess winning is out of the question. How about losing?
The AP says, “An early supporter of the war while in the U.S. Senate, Hagel later became more disillusioned with the conflict, opposing the surge of troops sent to quell the escalating violence. More recently he has warned that Americans want the U.S. to get out of the war . . .”
Fair enough. But here is my question: If you were in Afghanistan today or tonight, wearing our uniform, how could you fight on, knowing that we were “shutting down” and knowing the mindset of the new SecDef? Why would you risk your neck? You just would, I guess.
Again, such a strange war. In 2004, the Democrats portrayed Afghanistan as the “good war,” unlike Iraq. They did it again in 2008. When did the good war turn bad? When Bush was no longer president, and the Democrats’ political needs changed?
Also, I wonder this: Did we “shut down” in Vietnam? Or just lose? In Iraq, it seems to me we did all right. Although even that is murked up . . .
This article says that President Obama has three goals for his upcoming trip to Israel. The first is to convince the Israelis that he is serious about Iran. The second is to get a better relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Wonderful. And the third goal? “Enticing Israel back to negotiations with the Palestinians.”
Obama sees the Middle East conflict way one, I see it another. In my view, it is the Palestinians who need the enticing — and Obama seems pretty disinclined to do it.
It can be depressing to talk to people about Israel, even very nice people. I talked to a very nice man at an event not long ago. If I understood him correctly, he believes that Israelis wander forth in the dark of night, gobbling up more and more “Palestinian” land. He believes that Ariel Sharon launched the Second Intifada. (There are many believers in this.) Sharon was responsible for the murder and mayhem, not those committing it. He must have wanted his own people maimed and dead.
Again, this was a very nice man I was talking to — a peach. What about people who are rotten? The madness or confusion regarding Israel is one of the most depressing topics I know.
Did you hear about the bra? I better spell out what I mean: As this article tells us, Kwame Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit, was avidly on the take. A woman involved in fundraising “said she gave Kilpatrick more than $200,000 as his personal cut of political donations, pulling cash from her bra during private meetings.”
Just like a television show. And can we say the fundraising lady had a padded bra?
I know a couple of things about Thomas Perez, who is to be our secretary of labor, apparently. Learned them from this news report. “He is expected to have solid support from organized labor as well as the Hispanic community” — meaning La Raza, MALDEF, and all them, I guess.
Great, just great. What the American people did on Election Day had huge consequences, in endless spheres.
I spotted a headline: “Sen. Carl Levin’s decision opens seat in 2014.” Should I go home to Michigan to run? Or should the Republicans lose more conventionally, and maybe less entertainingly?
I don’t know why I’m waxing (and whining) defeatist. Michigan’s current governor is a Republican. Both houses of the legislature are in Republican hands. And a majority of U.S. House members from Michigan are Republican. It’s a veritable “red” state!
Years ago, I heard Jack Germond say something on television: “Levin always looks easy.” But you could never beat him. He was elected to the Senate in 1978. Not only was Carter in the White House — the top songs that year were from Saturday Night Fever.
On the subject of Michigan — I was watching the Michigan-Indiana basketball game on Sunday. (We won’t talk about the result.) The game was in Ann Arbor, and I was appalled by the behavior of the Michigan kids. The students in the stands, I mean. They made this sound — kind of a sustained call — whenever Indiana had the ball.
As unsportsmanlike conduct is allowed on the court, field, or what have you, unsportsmanlike conduct is allowed in the stands. Even encouraged! If I were feeling sour — and this is one of those days — I’d say it was all part of the general societal collapse.
My friend Rahul sent me an e-mail: “The noise, the jumping up and down, and all that is now a big part of home-court advantage. All teams, including Michigan, have to overcome it when playing on the road. That’s one reason it’s so hard to win on the road in college basketball.”
Okay. Unfortunately it didn’t stop Indiana, on Sunday.
When I was growing up in Ann Arbor, our colors were maize and blue. Maize is a pale yellow. At some point, that was turned into bright, neon yellow — Easter-chick yellow. Gross. The maize was far better, particularly with that blue.
Let’s turn to the PGA Tour — to the tournament we used to call Doral and now call the Cadillac Championship or something like that. It was played last week, and, during the telecast, they had a Cadillac official on. He was bragging about how much the company was giving to charity.
I could only think, “I hope they’re not doing it with taxpayer money. We can make our own charitable choices, thanks very much. No need to have GM as the middle man.”
Is that sour? (My flavor of the day, sour.)
It’s hard to be sour in California. The week before last, I was in Fresno. Coastal California is glorious — unmatchable — but there’s more to the state than that. Fresno is one of the most depressed places in the entire country. Still, it’s in California — and California’s still got it, for all its troubles.
The big minority in Fresno used to be the Armenians — this is William Saroyan territory (My Name Is Aram). The descendants of those immigrants are still around, but the big minorities, I’m told, are the Mexicans, the Punjabis, and the Hmong.
I saw two or three Hmong men, farming a corner plot. Apparently, many Hmong do this: farm corner plots. Then they sell their products by the road: corn, strawberries, and so on. I saw a ramshackle but endearing Hmong church.
Our Victor Davis Hanson has his family farm outside Fresno. You should see him there: the ultimate scholar-farmer-hombre.
In Fresno itself, there is a Catholic school whose sign says, “Angels in Training.” There is also this, in big letters: “For God and Country.” You can say that? At a private school, I guess.
I like a bumper sticker I saw: “Motherhood is a proud profession.”
In the Fresno airport — charming, attractive, efficient place — I saw a group of Mormons, traveling. Missionaries, I believe. I’m sure that there are fat, slovenly Mormons. Frankly, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any. I see instead the fit and sharp: Mitts and Mittesses.
Some fun with menus? I shouldn’t, but . . . At a Thai restaurant near National Review offices, the menu advertises “Tilapia Lard Prick.” Could be just me, but I think “lard” and “prick” are two words that are best left out of food descriptions.
A little language? A little more language, I should say? At a concert the other night, a composer took the stage to hold forth on his new piece. (They can’t help doing this. Once upon a time, music was allowed to speak for itself.) He said he wanted the audience to see he was a “playful, mischievious spirit.”
Note “mischievious,” as opposed to “mischievous.” That is an interesting, totally entrenched American error. I’ve heard the great and the good say it. (“Asterik,” too.) (We could go on.)
Finally, I want to thank the Young Americans for Freedom at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. I was with them a few days ago. I don’t believe I have ever seen a prettier college campus than theirs. It’s on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Never have I felt more at home than with those YAF Principians.
Catch you soon, dear readers (wherever you live, even if you’re not in college) — thanks.
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.