I was in a lobby on Monday, and they had CNN on. I heard an anchorwoman ask a correspondent, “Will the Republicans now have black candidates, or will they just pay lip service to diversity?” I am paraphrasing, but that is essentially what she said.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you know what I thought — for the anchorwoman had touched a nerve of mine: Republicans nominate black candidates; white Democrats beat them (fair and square); and the world is able to say, “Ha ha, you have no black officeholders.”
Last November — I’m going from the top of my head — Mia Love was beaten in Utah and Allen West was beaten in Florida. Okay.
One cycle, we had Lynn Swann as our gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania, Michael Steele as our Senate nominee in Maryland, and Ken Blackwell as our gubernatorial nominee in Ohio. They were all beaten, by garden-variety white liberals.
You can nominate a black candidate — but that doesn’t mean the people have to vote for him. I wish CNN anchors and other people would realize this.
Saw a headline: “Chicago, Honolulu are competing for Obama library.” Don’t much care. I won’t be visiting that library in either case. I’m not against presidential libraries — but I’m living through this presidency, you know?
The Obama library would get more visitors in Chicago. That is an easier place to visit, for the world at large. But Hawaii? Oh, are there ancillary benefits . . .
Regular readers are probably sick of seeing this — I’ve been saying the following for many years now: A Khmer Rouge monster has died in bed. There is no real Nuremburg in Cambodia. There is a feeble U.N. process. As Pol Pot slipped away in old age, they’re all slipping away in old age.
The latest? A monster named Ieng Sary, who slipped away at 87. Before long, they’ll all be gone — except maybe for some centenarians lurking in South America. (Oh, sorry, wrong genocidal regime.)
Do you remember the Tirana Index? It was invented by Charles Krauthammer a long time ago. Tirana is the capital of Albania, as you know. And Enver Hoxha, the dictator of that country, would win his “elections” by 99.6 percent, something like that. (You always wondered about the .4 percent.) Krauthammer said you could measure the democratic legitimacy of a country on a “Tirana index”: The higher the percentage, the less free the election.
I thought of this when news came from the Falkland Islands: Fully 99.8 percent of the people there voted to keep the Falklands a British territory. Out of 1,500 votes cast, three were against. Unlike in Albania — and a thousand other places — this vote was legit.
Kind of amazing.
I read a headline, and I was kind of relieved. The headline was, “Egypt justice minister dismayed by lynchings.” I was relieved that he was dismayed.
I’m pretty sure it was a “he” — I didn’t look.
Have you heard about the newest resident of Bezons, France — an honorary resident? I heard about it from Tom Gross, here. The new honorary resident is Majdi Rimawi, whose real residence is in an Israeli prison. Our hero is a Palestinian terrorist, of course. The most glorious of his deeds was the murder of Israel’s minister of tourism, Rehavam Ze’evi. The mayor of Bezons, Dominique Lesparre, explained why his town was honoring Rimawi: all part of a “tradition of peace, solidarity, and cooperation with the Palestinian people.”
Our own Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Philadelphia cop-killer, is an honorary citizen of Paris. No piddly little Bezons for him. The City of Light itself.
Maybe someone should take a mission civilisatrice to France.
I’ve been listening to Saeb Erekat for what seems all of my life, and maybe you have too: He is the PLO spokesman and negotiator. A news report quotes him as saying, “The rhetoric about peace is one thing and doing peace is something else. Doing peace requires deeds.” I couldn’t agree more. Of course, Erekat was talking about the Israeli government. The world is so weirdly upside down, so much of the time.
I’m not sure what to make of this news, but maybe you know — and I’m fairly sure the news isn’t good: “A record number of U.S. counties — more than 1 in 3 — are now dying off, hit by an aging population and weakened local economies that are spurring young adults to seek jobs and build families elsewhere.” (Article here.)
So, I’m in Zankel Hall the other night — the basement of Carnegie Hall (and a very pretty basement too) — covering a concert of the Artemis Quartet. They are playing a Ginastera work. And I read this, in the program notes:
The first performance took place on April 19, 1958, at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, as part of the first Inter-American Music Festival. The festival, in turn, was sponsored by the Pan American Union, a Cold War-era organization formed “to promote closer relations and understanding among the American republics by recognizing and stimulating the development of music of the Americas.” (American policymakers saw hemispheric solidarity as a strategic imperative to counter the perceived global communist threat.)
Perceived, huh? You get the idea the writer doesn’t consider the threat very real. Also, American policymakers saw “hemispheric solidarity” as desirable for its own sake, the Cold War aside. This has been true since at least the time of Theodore Roosevelt and Elihu Root. (Root, who had been TR’s secretary of state, won the Nobel Peace Prize for 1912, in part because he had worked on pan-American harmony.)
A little more music? A friend of mine saw the Metropolitan Opera’s Parsifal recently. (I have written a review for the next New Criterion.) He e-mailed me, “The man to my right had never seen or heard Parsifal before, and at the end I asked him how his first was. He said, ‘I’m undone. Utterly.’”
What a great response — common. Not the wording, but the feeling.
A reader comment has come to my attention, and I thought I’d address it — not to get on my high horse, although it may sound that way, but because it may be kind of fun. In a column last week, I wrote about Tony Campos, the almond grower in Fresno (Greater Fresno). I discussed some of the obstacles his company faces: mainly absurd, costly regulations. I wrote,
Wrap your mind around a regulation in the pipeline — a regulation that is apparently coming: A kit fox wanders into your almond orchard and takes a dump next to a tree. You have to quarantine off a sizable area around the tree. You have to “cleanse” it, destroying all the trees within.
Well, why not keep Mr. Fox out in the first place? You can’t — he’s on the endangered-species list.
Okay. The reader’s comment goes,
Hey, Jay … love your stuff, but … please do a bit more fact checking before you post:
The Kit fox is not on the endangered species list. It’s in fact very common (IUCN Least Threatened). This from a simple check with Wikipedia.
I say this because it’s the sort of thing the Left loves to hammer us with. (Anti-science! Factually challenged!)
Well, I was pretty sure that the people at Campos Brothers knew what they were talking about — they deal with these issues every day — but I went to Wikipedia, just as the reader suggested. And found,
To borrow a phrase, carry on. (Does that sound snotty? I mean, snottier than necessary?)
Let’s end with a little language — not so snotty. Well, actually, pretty snotty. In another column last week, I addressed some common American mispronunciations: “mischievious” for “mischievous,” “asterik” for “asterisk.” A reader wrote in, “Don’t forget ‘verbage’ for ‘verbiage.’” I heard another one yesterday: “eck cetera” for “et cetera.”
But that’s not what I want to talk about here. A reader sent in a classic poem, and several variations upon it. I’ll give you just the classic. (Not that the others are dirty or inept.) The poem teaches you to say “asterisk.” Here goes:
Pretty Mary bought some skates
Upon the ice to frisk.
Wasn’t she a silly girl
Her little * ?
Thanks for joining me today, skaters and non-skaters, riskers and non-riskers, and I’ll catch you soon.
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.