Among the tasks the United States is accomplishing in Iraq is the restoration of the marshlands. (An excellent story in the New York Times makes it all clear.) Saddam Hussein had wrecked these marshes in order to punish and suppress the people who depended on them. It will apparently not be possible to achieve a full restoration. But the U.S. and its allies are doing everything in their power.
My only point, for now: Might the environmentalist Left find a kind word to say about the Coalition’s liberation of Iraq? I mean, from a green standpoint? One may not be impressed by the overthrow of an expansionist dictator who tortured and murdered en masse–but marshes! Come on!
‐When you read about Haiti, it’s hard not to be impressed by the futility of that situation. Surely we can blame the United States–but how? Ali Mazrui would know!
With regard to Jean-Bertrand Aristide, I am reminded of the description by Pat Buchanan, for whose rhetorical skills I continue to harbor a fondness. He referred to Aristide–do you remember?–as “that dingbat priest.” I may have forgotten yesterday, but that appellation sticks. And do you remember the one about Deng Xiaoping–”the chain-smoking Communist dwarf”?
But enough PJB nostalgia.
‐The Times carried a piece on Dissent magazine, the 50th anniversary of. In it, one finds the following line, about another magazine, Partisan Review: It “ceased publishing in April after 66 years, having drifted rightward from its anti-Stalinist origins.”
Bit of a head-scratcher, no?
‐From the AP, we read the following: “The deputy chief of the Frankfurt police was charged with ordering subordinates to threaten to torture a suspect in the 2002 kidnapping of a prominent banker’s eleven-year-old son. The deputy chief, Wolfgang Daschner, has admitted using the threat to try to save the boy’s life. After being threatened, the suspect told the police where the boy, Jakob von Metzler, was, but when officers arrived, they found Jakob, his body wrapped in plastic, already dead. Mr. Daschner’s case has aroused intense and heated debate around Germany about means and ends. He faces five years in prison if convicted.”
The purpose of a political column–even a breezy lil’ semi-political one such as Impromptus–is to provide answers, however glib or wrong. But I will not attempt one, now. Each of us, individually, may just ponder. But I will say this: There are worse men in the world than Wolfgang Daschner.
But yes, the slippery slope, heading down, down . . .
‐A fish story? Okay. Reuters told one about a piranha discovered on a boat cruising the Thames, deposited there by a seagull, who had decided not to eat it. Explained the news agency, “The reputation of the piranha is worse than its bite and despite global warming, the Thames remains too cold to support such warmwater fish.”
A reader of mine pointed out that Reuters has evidently settled the controversy–global warming is a fact! (Even if the terrorist status of al Qaeda is not, in the mind of Reuters, a fact.) The New York Times, to its credit, telling the same story, left out the business about global warming.
‐Again from the AP: “A painting that featured the words ‘Israel’ and ‘the United States’ and replaced each ’s’ with a Nazi swastika was removed from an Oslo art exhibition after it infuriated a Holocaust survivor and other Jews.” But on what grounds was it removed? Offensiveness? I would argue for lack of originality! I mean, they’ve–”they” have–been putting swastikas in Israel’s and America’s names since I was a pup! Can they not think of a new means of smearing?
‐Richie Daley–the mayor of Chicago, and son of you-know-who–has come out for gay marriage. Leaving that debate aside, I’d like to make a psycho-linguistic point. Daley said, “Marriage has been undermined by divorce, so don’t tell me about marriage. Don’t blame the gay and lesbian, transgender and transsexual community.”
Can you imagine the son of Mayor Daley–can you imagine any Mayor Daley–saying “gay and lesbian, transgender and transsexual community”? I mean, just as a matter of language, forgetting thought or belief! The old man must be rolling over in his grave.
The original Daley, of course, gave us that priceless word “insinuendo”–a glorious American combination of “insinuation” and “innuendo.”
(I learned about this creation from The Weekly Standard’s Richard Starr.)
‐The Washington Post’s David Ignatius penned what I thought was an exceptionally honest column, about the Zarqawi memo and how it relates to Iraq today. Particularly honest were the following sentences: “. . . visceral dislike of the Shiites is, alas, fairly common among Sunni Muslims in the Arab world. Even top officials of pro-American, Sunni-led governments privately make comments about the Shiites that are so bigoted they make your hair curl.”
Journalists do a fair amount of protecting of the people they work among. I’ve done a little bit of it myself (I’m not proud to say). And when you deal with Arab officials, to say nothing of the man on the street–oh, lawzy! For a flavor–just a flavor–check out “the invaluable memri.org,” as we have come to know it.
Thanks to Ignatius for pulling the curtain back a little.
‐Anyone care to pull back the curtain a little on what Austrians (and others) say about the Third Reich, privately and not so privately? Hmm?
‐George W. Bush has exercised a little of his power, as chief executive, to place his nominees on the federal bench, just as Senate Democrats have exercised what power they have to block them. Bully for Bush, I say (and high time). But here is New York’s senator Chuck Schumer: “[This is] shabby, and the motivation is political more than anything else.”
Um, just to be clear, Schu: You mean that as a criticism?
‐If’n you have the time, you may want to check out this interview at IdentityTheory.com. It is of Tobias Fischer, the celebrated British writer. He says many things that . . . that celebrated British writers are not expected to say.
Q. “What do you think about the claim that Ronald Reagan and his policies [sank] the Soviet Union?”
A. “Actually, I think there is a valid case for it. When Reagan came to power–certainly in Britain they were very dismissive of him because he had been an actor. Similarly, with Thatcher, people said she was adopting this hard line and it won’t work. Well, with all these political things, you can argue either way, but I think you can put forward an argument that because Reagan and Thatcher (you remember she allowed the Cruise missiles to be based in Britain, in the face of quite considerable opposition) showed the Soviets that the West meant business . . . [they saw that] it would be very difficult for them to compete militarily. They were also in huge trouble in Afghanistan. And they decided they wanted to cut some sort of deal. Gorbachev, it should be remembered, didn’t want to destroy the Communist system. He was interested in reforming it and making it more flexible and productive. . . .”
Etc. Not bad.
‐Every now and then–actually pretty often–people ask me, “What can I do to support the Cubans?” and “What can I do to support the Chinese?” The answers are many, but, on the Cuba front, I would suggest turning to the Oscar Biscet website, which provides other avenues as well. And on the Chinese front–well, let me print a letter from Wei Jingsheng, the great democrat and dissenter:
“Over the years, many of you have supported me and the Chinese human rights and democracy movement. And nowadays, I often hear you ask me what you could do to help our cause. I surely appreciate it, as I know your kindness is not out of sympathy, but of conscience.
“Now you can help, to act on your conscience and kindness, for our Chinese fellows who suffer human rights abuses.
“As many of you know, the Chinese human rights condition has deteriorated over the last few years. One of the important factors is the lack of international pressure, including the lack of a resolution presented to condemn the Chinese government’s human rights record at the UNHCHR (United Nations High Commission for Human Rights). . . .
“. . . the annual Commission meeting is going to start next month, yet we still have not seen a country come forward to propose such a resolution, including the United States. I am extremely appreciative of a recent bill proposed in the U.S. Congress by two longtime champions of Chinese human rights, Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Frank Wolf, calling on the U.S. administration to support Chinese human rights by presenting a resolution in the upcoming UNHCHR Geneva meeting. . . .
“This bill is planned to be moved in the HIRC (House International Relations Committee) on Feb. 25 and to go to the House floor shortly afterward. However, currently we still need an additional two members from the HIRC as the original co-sponsors of the bill to make it through.
“Hereby, I am making a personal appeal to my friends who have tried to help us in the past to help this time. Please reach these congressional members, especially those members who are from your district, and persuade them to co-sponsor and vote on this resolution. . . .
“Thanks you very much for your attention and your help!”
So, there you go. Something concrete, from a man to whom we must listen.
‐And, in a Man Bites Dog twist, someone has sent me something from U.N. Wire, explaining how the United Nations has found Castro’s Cuba guilty of gross human-rights violations. How you like them apples–even if Castro is a member of the U.N. human-rights commission (along with Mugabe, Assad, the Saudi royals, etc.)?
‐For all you Rumsfeldholics out there–and you know who you are (because I hear from you, and identify with you)–a website, featuring the secretary in a variety of poses. Call it porn for hawks, reformers, and admirers of blunt intelligence.
‐So you think you’ve had a bad day? José López Portillo, the former Mexican president, died, which was bad enough: but not the worst thing. Did you see the obit in the New York Times? Thank goodness he didn’t. The lead: “José López Portillo, who as president of Mexico from 1976 to 1982 brought his nation to the brink of economic collapse, died yesterday. He was 83 years old.”
Farther down: “By the time he left office, Mr. López Portillo was considered one of the most incompetent leaders of Mexico’s modern era and his government among the most corrupt.”
Just be thankful you’re not famous. This reminds me of the term Florence King coined for a Bill Buckley “appreciation” (of Murray Rothbard): “hit-obit.”
‐A concluding letter, related to one in the Impromptus of Thursday,which carried the heading “love on the right”: “This weekend, my new girlfriend noticed on the coffee table my copy of Rich Lowry’s Legacy, with Clinton’s picture on it, and wanted me to get rid of it. I tried to explain that the book was about how disastrous Clinton’s tenure was, but she didn’t care–she wanted that image GONE!
“I think I’m in love . . .”
Later on, friends and lovers.