Politics & Policy

Clintonites forever, &c.

Here’s something that may semi-amuse you: Last week, I got an e-mail from a reader who was carrying on — really hot — about how Republicans don’t defend their own, and how the White House barely defends itself. He reminded me of what tigers the Clinton people were (to put it politely). When that president was crossed, in any way, they were all over you like ugly on ape, as the first Bush used to say. Blumenthal, Pellicano, Lockhart — you remember that whole, awful crowd.

I thought, “Boy, that’s a pretty p.o.’d letter.” Also, I remembered how the Bush administration was utterly cooperative in this Plame investigation, in stark contrast with the behavior of the Clintonites way back.

And, shortly after I received that note, I read about that 9/11 film, and what the Clintonites were doing to block it. Tigers, indeed! They haven’t changed a bit. And I’m afraid that “our side” — if I may be crude about it — will never be like that. (At least not effectively.)

(I still maintain it was a miracle that the Republicans came out ahead in that Florida mess, in November and December of ’00.)

‐Bear in mind, friends, that it’s much easier for Democrats to bully the media and the entertainment industry than it is for Republicans to do so. As you know, the Democrats are merely talking to their own. When the media or Hollywood offends Democrats, they’re apt to feel betrayed. When those sectors offend Republicans, they — we — are likely to shrug and say, “What’s new?”

‐So, Lincoln Chafee, the Republican senator from Rhode Island, is refusing to support the confirmation of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador. He has reservations, real concerns. What are they about? Not Bolton, but U.S. policy on the Middle East. Well, I have concerns too; don’t we all. But what are Chafee’s?

In a letter to Secretary Rice, dated last Thursday, Chafee played the Palestinian card, particularly the settlements card. You see, Israel just keeps adding to those darn settlements, and, until they stop, why, we just can’t confirm John Bolton. That’s the gist of it.

Chafee calls for “a more balanced approach” in the Arab-Israeli dispute, and for the U.S. to act as “an honest broker” in the region. I have heard these phrases — “balanced approach” and “honest broker” — all my life, and I bet you have, too. I treat them as code for letting Arafat have his way (if I may speak symbolically).

I have always asked the question, If two sides are locked in a struggle, and one side wishes to destroy the other, while the other side is begging for coexistence, how can you take a “balanced approach”? Doesn’t your “balance” inevitably aid the would-be destroyer?

The other great code word is “evenhanded.” Watch out for that one: If a cop on the beat decides to be evenhanded between you and the fellow who threatens you, you’re a dead duck.

In his letter to Rice, Chafee mentions two Israeli settlements: Maale Adumim and Betar Illit. I’m not familiar with the second one, but I’ve been to the first. And if that is a “settlement,” then so is Scarsdale. When you say “settlement,” you conjure up a bunch of religio-nationalist crazies in tents, somewhere out in the desert. Maale Adumim is a full-blown city, where Israeli Ozzie & Harriets live. The country will never give that up — nor should they — and Senator Chafee, along with Israel’s enemies, had just better swallow it.

Of course, the Israelis would give up anything — practically the Western Wall itself — for peace. But its enemies aren’t interested in coexistence, or a two-state solution. A state, and coexistence, have been on offer since 1948. But nothing seems ever to change.

Last year, Chafee supported Bolton’s nomination, and his primary election in Rhode Island is today. I suspect he will win. And maybe his letter to Rice will help him in the fall campaign, when he appeals to that liberal electorate. If so, that will say something unpleasant about the electorate.

One more thing: Chafee refused to support the reelection of President Bush two years ago, and if you can’t support George W., I guess you can’t support John Bolton. But if Chafee cares as much about peace as he says he does, he should; because no peace worthy of the name — no peace that’ll last more than five seconds — can be achieved without such realism as Bolton exemplifies.

‐You may recall that, in Thursday’s Impromptus, I went after a column by Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. This column reacted to the claim of President Bush and others that we are fighting Islamic fascists (or, perhaps more accurately, that Islamic fascists are fighting us). I’d like to say one more thing about that column.

Robinson wrote, “Ever since the president settled on ‘Islamic fascists’ as the enemy in his war on terrorism, he has taken every opportunity to evoke the specter of World War II.”

That pronoun “his” is very important: “his war on terrorism.” Robinson and others regard this war as George Bush’s weird, personal jihad. They fail to realize that these Islamic fascists have declared war on us, and that no one — not even dutiful liberal columnists — is safe.

You remember what Michael Moore said when the planes plowed into the towers: He wondered why al Qaeda had targeted New York — a “blue state” — which had obediently voted for Gore.

(Remember, too, that, three years later, Moore was sitting with Jimmy Carter in the presidential box at the Democratic convention. Carter told him that there was no one he’d rather sit with.)

I hate to break it to Michael Moore, Eugene Robinson, and anyone else: They don’t care whom you voted for; they will not ask to see your voting record, before bombing, or beheading; to paraphrase an old saying, you may not like this war but, unfortunately, it likes you.

‐For the last several years, people like me have been extolling Australian officials, especially the prime minister, John Howard, and the treasurer, Peter Costello. They are remarkably clear-eyed about the threats we face, whether externally or internally. They have told Australian Muslims straightforwardly that, if they wish to live under sharia, Australia is not for them — they should relocate to one of the many countries where such law is in force.

I have another official to praise: Andrew Robb, parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. Why? Certainly not because of that grandiose and oh-so-mod title. Robb had something to say to his country’s Muslim leaders, when they reacted angrily and defensively to Howard’s and Costello’s comments. He said they were the “worst enemies” of their community, because they fostered a “victim” mentality.

Right on, Robb — and keep going.

‐Let me direct your attention to a superb, alarming, and disgusting article in Business Week: here. It’s about how American high-tech companies are aiding police in the PRC — and you know what police in the PRC do. It’s not a simple matter of rounding up bad guys.

The article begins,

Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft endured a wave of public disapproval earlier this year over their compliance with Chinese censorship of their Web sites. But another striking form of tech commerce with China is taking place below the radar of the U.S. public: Major American manufacturers are rushing to supply China’s police with the latest information technology.

It continues,

Oracle Corp. has sold software to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, which oversees both criminal and ideological investigations. The ministry uses the software to manage digital identity cards that are replacing the paper ID that Chinese citizens must carry. Meanwhile, regional Chinese police departments are modernizing their computer networks with routers and switches purchased from Cisco Systems Inc. And Motorola Inc. has sold the Chinese authorities handheld devices that will allow street cops to tap into the sorts of sophisticated data repositories that EMC Corp. markets to the Ministry of Public Security.

That’s one cozy commercial family, huh?!

Says Business Week,

The scramble to sell technology to Chinese law enforcers seems, for starters, to be at odds with the intent of an American export law enacted after the massacre of hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The Tiananmen sanctions prohibited the export “of any crime control or detection instruments or equipment” to China. “We wanted to undermine the effectiveness of the police in rounding up, imprisoning, and torturing political dissidents, not only those involved in the Tiananmen Square movement, but for years to come,” explains Representative Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), who helped draft the law.

You know the old line about how the problem with capitalism is capitalists? Read on:

American manufacturers say they have no obligation or ability to determine whether Chinese security forces use the technology for political repression. On the contrary, American capitalism improves the lot of ordinary Chinese, some executives contend. “Anything that helps China to modernize will help China to improve its human rights situation,” says John S. Chen, chief executive of Sybase Inc., a Dublin (Calif.) company that sells database programs to the Shanghai police.

You know, I used to think that way, too. But I’m wavering, badly.

Get a load of this, guys:

Some American companies have gone out of their way to appeal to the Chinese government’s pronounced concern about avoiding unrest. In Chinese-language brochures distributed at a police-technology trade show in Shanghai in 2002, Cisco repeatedly referred to its gear with such phrases as “strengthening police control” and “increasing social stability.” Cisco, based in San Jose, Calif., says there’s nothing unusual about its marketing in China. “We sell to police organizations in many countries,” says Rick Justice, senior vice-president for worldwide operations. “We do business [in China] the way we do business anywhere.”

And that, precisely, is the problem: This sort of capitalism is neutral; it doesn’t matter whether you sell to a liberal-democratic government or a police state. Mohandas Gandhi, Pol Pot, what’s the difference? Their money is equally green.

Anyway, do read the whole thing, as we say in Webland. And may I congratulate — and thank — Business Week for a bold, balanced, and highly important article. (I say balanced because they quote both human-rights activists and business spokesmen, etc.)

‐Some people have written me to say, “Jay, how come you haven’t commented on Tiger Woods lately? You used to be such a Tiger-ologist. But he’s won five in a row, reached his twelfth major [15, if you count the U.S. Ams], has 53 wins . . . why are you silent?”

The reason, friends, is that I really have nothing left to say. I said all I could, many years ago. I said — though it almost killed me, being a Nicklaus idolater — that he was the best ever, and that the rest was a matter of longevity: career stats and all that. I mean, do we downgrade Jones because he chose to retire at 28?

I don’t think I can say any more about Tiger. I can only marvel and enjoy, along with everyone else. Who knows what Tiger will do in the future? But if he, perversely, decides to retire today, that won’t detract an iota from what he has been, from what he has already demonstrated.

And, hell, his amateur career was as astounding as anything he’s done as a pro. Tiger thinks the same thing, by the way.

I published two pieces in National Review on him. The first, written in April 2001, is here. It is sort of a general appreciation. The second, written in September 2002, is here. It focuses on society and politics (in a sense).

‐Finally, something that may tickle you. I was looking up a film of the opera Fidelio on IMBd (here). And it said, “Non-original music by Ludwig van Beethoven”!

Oh, it’s original, all right!

Have a good one, sweet kids.

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