Politics & Policy

A nation and its buzz-sentences, &c.

I don’t know about you, but “Don’t taze me, bro’” has replaced “The senator assumes a wide stance” as my favorite buzz-sentence in the American language.

#ad#Gotta keep up with the culture — it moves.

‐Israel has declared the Gaza Strip an “enemy entity.” It might have said, “The Gaza Strip is an enemy entity filled with enmity” — very Jacksonian. Jesse Jacksonian.

Secretary Rice made a nice statement. She said, “Hamas is a hostile entity to the United States as well.” And “we will not abandon the innocent Palestinians in Gaza, and indeed will make every effort to deal with their humanitarian needs.”

Two comments: I know people who will go nuts at the suggestion that the U.S. and Israel have enemies in common. And they exist — the go-nutsers, I mean — on both the left and the right. In fact, I can’t tell you where the heavier concentration is.

Comment 2: Why has that word “humanitarian” replaced “human,” in certain instances? What ever happened to “human needs”?

(For an article on Israel/Gaza/Condi, go here.)

‐In the Washington Post two days ago, Eugene Robinson had a column on O. J. Simpson. And it was filled with cute-isms. The column was titled “Fresh-Squeezed O.J.” (And titles aren’t a writer’s problem, of course — others do that.)

Robinson’s opening paragraph: “Welcome back, Juice. It’s so nice to have you once again where you belong, at the center of a world-class, spare-no-expense, fuel-the-helicopters media frenzy. You may be a few years older and a few pounds heavier, but you haven’t lost a step.”

Later: “. . . if the case ever gets to trial, Johnnie Cochran isn’t around anymore to tell the jury, ‘If the stuff belonged to the Juice, you must let him loose.’ Or maybe, ‘If O.J. didn’t aim the gun, you must let him run.’”

A little more: “. . . what else does the Juice have in the way of saleable assets or earning potential?”

Finally, these sentences: “Every once in a while, we — or at least I — welcome a good, old-fashioned, personality-driven narrative to wallow in. So thanks, Juice. Whenever you’re ready, cue the low-speed chase.”

Now, I’m perhaps not the best guy to object to cute-isms — Impromptus is filled with them. (But then, a Washington Post column from me wouldn’t look like Impromptus — I think.) Still: O. J. Simpson is a murderer.

Right?

“The Juice, the Juice, the Juice.” Just makes me a little sick, is all.

‐One reads here that a top Khmer Rouge leader was arrested and will be put on trial for genocide. My question: What’s the big rush?

A further question: Will Ramsey Clark and Noam Chomsky stand by his side, and speak in his behalf? How about Michael Moore?

(Nonetheless, I am generally a believer in: Better late than never.)

‐Gen. John Abizaid — a wonderful guy — seems, um, fairly relaxed about a nuclear Iran. The other day, he said, “Iran is not a suicide nation. I mean, they may have some people in charge that don’t appear to be rational, but I doubt that the Iranians intend to attack us with a nuclear weapon.” Furthermore, “I believe that we have the power to deter Iran, should it become nuclear. There are ways to live with a nuclear Iran.”

Okay. Hope he’s right. And he may well be. But “hope” is a funny word to use, when you’re talking about nuclear weapons in the hands of Islamofascists. And that, undoubtedly, is what Iran’s leaders are — as they have been since 1979.

Better to deter them before they acquire the A-bomb than after. (As I’m confident John Abizaid believes.)

(For a story on this matter, go here.)

‐Gov. Bill Richardson is a curious little candidate, isn’t he? In an interview with the AP, he said that U.S. troops were contributing to sectarian violence in Iraq, rather than treating or reducing it. Said the New Mexico colossus, “There’s no question there’s tribal and ethnic hatreds. But when those tribal and ethnic hatreds are fueled by American policy of hostility, then you make the situation worse.”

“American policy of hostility”? Has there been some transcription error here? WT . . .? An American policy of hostility to whom? Al Qaeda, the Saddamists, and everyone else who won’t let Iraq live? Sure.

About MoveOn.org, Richardson said its ad was unfortunate — I’m talking about “General Betray Us” — but “MoveOn.org is doing a lot to stop the war.” I suppose that’s true — but the war is not stopped yet. And after the war is stopped, if the Americans leave too soon: The previous bloodshed will probably seem like a trickle.

A footnote: In the AP’s words, Richardson said “he would lift the trade embargo with Cuba in exchange for the release of political prisoners.” That’s an odd position. How many political prisoners? All of them? Nine of them? And what about the political prisoners newly, and ongoingly, taken?

And what if Americans aren’t allowed to trade with Cubans themselves, but only with the dictatorship? (That is the Cuban policy, and insistence.)

I’ll have more on Candidate Richardson, and all these other matters, later . . .

‐Reading about Hillary’s new health-care plan, I had a thought: She’s not giving it all at once; she’s doling it out in dribs and drabs. You might even say she’s “rationing” her plan. And that’s what the plan entails: rationing.

Or is that too cute a thought?

‐Once in a while, when I read about some really creative, super-sadistic atrocity committed by the “insurgents” in Iraq, I think of Michael Moore’s statement — a statement endorsed by millions of Americans, not to mention others around the world: that these people are like our Minutemen.

I also think: Since when has the Left had anything good to say about the American Revolution?

‐I’ll give you a thought about Chávez, too. Every week or so, we read a story much like this: “President Hugo Chavez threatened on Monday to take over any private schools refusing to submit to the oversight of his socialist government, a move some Venezuelans fear will impose leftist ideology in the classroom.”

Why doesn’t he quit with the incrementalism and just take over the country whole-hog, Castro-style? Why the coyness, the gradualism? Why the grab here, grab there? If he went the full Castroite, Leninist route: Who in the world would stop him? Who in the U.S., for example, would utter a peep?

No Blood for Oil! (And who, I remind you, has stopped the Chinese-backed, Russian-backed murderers and slave-drivers in Khartoum?)

‐Writers of headlines are terrible punners: I mean, they can’t stop punning. And some of those puns are terrible. With some magazines, every headline is a pun, and often it’s strained. This can drive a reader nuts. Here at National Review, we have a pun maybe every two months — something like that. And if you use one: It had better be good.

Why am I giving this little speech? To praise the current Time-magazine cover: It is dedicated to the spouses of the current presidential candidates, and the legend is: “The Running Mates.”

Took me a second to get that. But when I did — very nice.

‐Good news, bad news: Alicia Silverstone is going to appear naked. But she’s doing it in promotion of PETA. (Story here.)

‐Hang on, I want to go back to the taze guy (with whom I started). Aren’t we lucky that this episode occurred at a John Kerry event, rather than at an event featuring a conservative Republican? Say, Mitt Romney? Can you imagine how the press would have reacted — and the Left at large? Before they were through, they would have had Romney himself wielding the taser gun (or whatever we call it). Would have heard a lot of references to Abu Ghraib.

Yes, we were lucky this was a Kerry event.

One more thought about the taze guy: Just about one of every four people I went to college with was exactly like him — or much like him.

‐A little music? For a review of the New York Philharmonic, conducted by John Williams, go here. As you might guess, this was an evening of movie music (largely). And the special guest star was Stanley Donen, the veteran film director. And for a review of the Metropolitan Opera’s Tribute to Beverly Sills (the soprano who died last July), go here. Both pieces were published in the New York Sun.

By the way, a political incident occurred at the Sills event. When Henry Kissinger took the stage to eulogize his friend, a man behind me yelled, “He’s got blood on his hands!” Did the gentleman perhaps mean that the U.S. abandoned South Vietnam, opening the way to boat people, reeducation camps, and the rest? I have a feeling not. (And, in any case, Henry the K is not responsible for the abandonment of Vietnam. The U.S. Congress sworn in in January 1975 was — and the American people at large are.)

Ah, one more Sun piece: a preview of the music season in New York, from now till January 1. But I’m afraid this piece contains a major boner (pardon the expression): It says that this is the last season of Lorin Maazel as music director of the New York Phil. In fact, next season will be his last — he’ll leave at the end of ’08-’09.

Sorry for the error.

‐And I’m sorry for this, too: I’m way, way behind on my mail — I hope to catch up before, oh, Columbus Day. (Or is that Indigenous Peoples Day?)

‐Let’s have a little language: Governor Schwarzenegger said, “We’re dying at the box office” — meaning, Republicans are failing with voters. I don’t like his prescription: that the rest of us become Republicrats like him. But I do like his language: “dying at the box office.” Here is an actor-politician who’s not ashamed of his Hollywood background. Another one, I should say.

(For a story, go here.)

‐Finally, I note that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been invited to speak at Columbia University. Have they at last agreed to include a moderate voice in their Middle East Studies department?

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