Friends, you’re familiar with my rap (many of them). You know how I say, Why shouldn’t the anchorman of CBS News attend a Democratic fundraiser (as Dan Rather did)? And why shouldn’t the Supreme Court reporter of the New York Times participate in a pro-abortion rally, and then report on it (as Linda Greenhouse did)?
In the same spirit, I ask this: Why shouldn’t a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize tell a bunch of schoolchildren, “I would love to kill George Bush” (as Betty Williams did)? (For the report, go here.) It should almost be a precondition of winning the prize.
Problem is, they sometimes give it to someone decent. Just to throw us off, I guess.
While I’m pursuing this line: Why shouldn’t Cuba, Sudan, China, Zimbabwe, and Saudi Arabia sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council?
‐People call for the U.S. to be an “honest broker” in the Middle East. An honest broker between whom? Hezbollah and Israel? But the U.S. — at least under this president — is on a side.
Also, people insist on the negotiation of a cease-fire. A cease-fire between whom? Hezbollah and Israel? Eventually, Yasser Arafat came to be treated as a state. (Big mistake, of course.) The world is eager for Hezbollah to be so treated, too.
Actually, Hezbollah is a state — whose major capital is Tehran, and whose minor capital is Damascus.
‐Funny how things turn, including linguistically. “Root cause” has long been a big lefty phrase, employed by people who wish Israel and the United States to do nothing in opposition to terrorists. Now I hear Israel-supporters using “root cause” — as in, “Israel must address the root cause of this violence: Hezbollah and Hamas. Root them out.”
Whatever gets your point across, I guess.
‐A British friend of mine was telling me last night that the BBC is so bad, he flips to CNN International for relief — for a little balance, a hostility less blazing toward Israel.
That is a strong condemnation of the BBC — that CNN International should appear a relief.
‐I smiled, slightly, at something that appeared in an AP report: “Hezbollah continued its missile attacks on northern Israel, firing more than 80 rockets and slightly wounding 13. Militants fired 95 rockets on Sunday and 129 on Saturday, the Israeli military said. U.N. observers in south Lebanon said the Israeli numbers appear accurate.”
Well, I’m glad to have it confirmed by the U.N.! Now I don’t have to trust the Israeli military!
(Look, if the Israeli military said my name was Betsy, and the U.N. said Jay — I’d still lean toward the Israelis.)
Farther down in that same report, there was this delicious, delicious sentence: “[Secretary Rice’s] mission is the first U.S. effort on the ground to try to resolve the crisis that began July 12 with Israel’s onslaught on Lebanon sparked by Hezbollah’s capture of the two Israeli soldiers.”
So let me see if I have this right: The crisis began with Israel’s onslaught, sparked by Hezbollah’s raid. I think I’m dizzy now. And I think the Associated Press must be too.
‐Friend of mine knows that I like to quote John Bolton and then say, “Can you believe this man is U.S. ambassador to the U.N.?” (That is, can you believe we’re so lucky?) She sent me the following Bolton:
I think it’s important that we not fall into the trap of moral equivalency here. What Hezbollah has done is kidnap Israeli soldiers and rain rockets and mortar shells on innocent Israeli civilians. What Israel has done in response is act in self-defense. And I don’t quite know what the argument about proportionate force means here. Is Israel entitled only to kidnap two Hezbollah operatives and fire a couple of rockets aimlessly into Lebanon? The situation is that Israel has lived under the terrorist threat of Hezbollah for years, and these most recent attacks have given it the legitimate right, the same right America would have if we were attacked, to deal with the problem. And that’s what they’re doing.
To see the complete story, go here. And, as we marvel at Bolton, don’t forget to marvel at Bush: Only he would have appointed such a man to the job.
‐In recent weeks, I have noted that worst flocks to worst; the worst rulers in the world stick together. Therefore, Chávez aligns with Castro, aligns with Ahmadinejad — and his latest visit is to Belarus. As we learn from this story, Chávez “exchanged declarations of solidarity Monday with the authoritarian leader of isolated Belarus, who shares his anti-U.S. views. Chávez, a frequent and harsh critic of the United States, made Belarus the first stop on a major international tour that will also take him to Russia, Iran, and Vietnam.”
Perfect, absolutely perfect.
‐A reader of this column forwarded to me a very clever piece of satire — here. Part of it reads, “Israel is at war and surrounded by millions of people who want them dead, so what they need most right now is our criticism. Let’s remind them who were the ones who decided to be Jews where they are not wanted so maybe they’ll realize their folly and stop the aggression.”
Portions of this satire could be published in many non-satirical publications, left and right.
‐In a recent column, George F. Will wrote about the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, pitting the incumbent Democrat, Ed Rendell, against the Republican challenger, Lynn Swann (of pro-football fame). Consider the following paragraph from that column:
Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a favorite of social conservatives, is in an uphill struggle to hold his seat. His campaign should help Swann’s by energizing the Republican base. But, says Rendell contentedly, the Republican vote consists of three increasingly incompatible factions: the loyal base, the disappointed base that may not vote, and Republican moderates who are “fast concluding there’s no place for them in the party.” From “gay bashing” to restrictions on stem-cell research, he says, “they’re appalled by it all.”
I was interested in that phrase “gay bashing.” I think that what people like Rendell mean by that now is opposition to gay marriage. This equates to “bashing.”
And remember when advocacy of “civil unions” used to be the most progressive position on the face of the earth? Now, if you favor them — but not marriage — you’re considered a caveman, if not a gay-hater.
Odd, how quickly the world can change, and how nonsensically.
‐Saw a good cartoon in The New Yorker recently. It showed “Hilda,” singing “The Democratic Blues.” And those blues began, “Oh, I drive a hybrid car, I listen to NPR . . .”
Which reminded me to ask something I haven’t asked in, oh, four days: The Republicans have been in control of Congress since 1995. Why is there still government radio? Why is there still government television? Are we not a liberal-democratic republic?
‐Let’s have a little language. I was reading a speech by Prof. Harvey Mansfield, titled “A New Feminism.” And he speaks these sentences: “Men . . . have a more abstract sense of importance than women that is also more egoistic. Women may be vain, but men are conceited.”
Now, Mansfield is a careful user of words — so that sent me scurrying (as scurry I can) to discover the distinction, precisely, between “vain” and “conceited.”
For “vain,” I find “excessively proud of one’s appearance or accomplishments; conceited.” For “conceited,” I find “holding or characterized by an unduly high opinion of oneself; vain.” So, they are presented as synonyms. But I nevertheless sniff a distinction, and suspect that Mansfield knows what he’s talking about.
‐A little music criticism, published in the New York Sun? For a review of Leslie Howard — no, not the British actor who perished in World War II, but the Australian-born supervirtuoso of the piano — go here. And for a roundup of recent recordings, go here. That piece treats the violinist Leila Josefowicz, in Shostakovich; the Previn/Mutter/Müller-Schott Trio; and the guitarist Christopher Parkening.
‐In my column on Monday, I wrote of Astoria, Queens, which experienced a power outage. Mayor Bloomberg spoke to them like Winston Churchill in the Blitz (only less eloquently). (Not that I’m faulting him.) I got a fair amount of mail on this, and thought I’d share some with you.
I’m a resident of Astoria who was without power most of the week (Mon.-Fri.) and I can assure you that, no, it wasn’t that bad. Tuesday night was rough — it had been near 100 all day — but other than that, it was just annoying.
I did have power for a couple of hours on Wednesday night and heard some ridiculous things on the news. The silliest came from a woman on the street who told a reporter — no joke — “It’s a war zone”! I wonder if some Israelis, and others, might find that a bit galling.
I live in Astoria. I was without power for a week. Big deal! No one was really complaining. I think the press seeks out the complainers and attributes their negativism to everyone else. I, for one, do not own an air-conditioning unit (I have a fan), and, as a bachelor, I have nothing in my refrigerator. Also, as a glass-half-full kinda guy, I took advantage of the opportunity to actually meet my neighbors, for the first time.
A missive from the Midwest:
You mentioned that Mayor Bloomberg told people they will be compensated for spoiled food. He will be amazed that everybody in the area filled his freezer with meat the day before the outage. Years ago — late ’80s — I was working for Commonwealth Edison in Chicago, and one of our substations blew up. It was amazing how many poor folks managed to keep $400+ of meat in their freezer.
Finally, a note from military man:
When I was working on the Katrina disaster last fall, we had a saying: “In America, starvation means missing lunch.” This was in response to reports of “starvation” in New Orleans, a day or two after the storm hit.
Mention of lunch makes me hungry. I’ll see you later, and thanks, as always, for “tuning in.”