Politics & Policy

The Feherty Report, &c.

If you follow golf at all, you probably know who David Feherty is. He’s an Irish former golf champion who now works as a commentator. And he’s charming, knowledgeable, funny — pretty much a treat. Anyway, a reader sent me an article, here, describing a trip that Feherty recently took to Iraq. Would like to quote it.

The article says that Feherty “returned from a USO tour of ‘forward operating bases’ in Iraq feeling ‘I’d be so proud to be an American, if I was one.’ Trying to hear ‘more than the official line,’ he was ‘stunned by the competence and intelligence of every single soldier we met. The smartest people America has are in Iraq.’”

Some more words from Feherty: “I was surprised by the attitude of the troopers. I would have thought they’d just want to get out of there. But the opposite is true. They all said they had a job to do. This war isn’t the disaster I was under the impression it was. . . . I would hate to be at war with America.”

Not the kind of thing you hear every day, huh? At least where I live . . .

(As for that usage of “trooper,” I don’t know — could be an Irish thing.) (Or a mistranscription.)

‐Was leafing through The New Yorker, checking out the cartoons — and started reading a piece by Alexandra Styron, daughter of the late writer William Styron. An interesting piece, as these things go.

Thought you might get a kick out of one paragraph. Talking about the house in which she grew up, the author writes,

People simply showed up, and they were always encouraged to stay, stay! There was a time when it seemed that if you hadn’t had a drink on my parents’ Vineyard porch or a piece of our housekeeper Daphne’s famous fried chicken, either you were a Republican or you must have got lost.

Yes, so true. I knew some Republicans when I was growing up (though not in my hometown of Ann Arbor, of course). Oddly, they had neither porches on the Vineyard nor housekeepers named Daphne who made famous fried chicken. They tended to make their own chicken.

Have some more of Ms. Styron:

Kicked back with his Scotch and cigar, mordant wit on high display, Daddy was never more alluring than when in the mood to socialize, or “chew the fat,” as he liked to say. Tales of life in the Marines would meander into an amusing jeremiad on whichever right-wing “prick” was in the day’s news, segueing into an ardent discussion about politics or a public scandal that someone in the room had the inside story on.

Yup, a laugh a minute at the Styrons’. Must have been grand.

‐In this same issue of The New Yorker, I saw an ad for a “magnetic countdown clock.” What the clock counts down to is “Bush’s Last Day,” written as “01.20.09.” In this ad was a little peace sign — hadn’t seen one of those in years — and, underneath it, the words “make your holiday about peace . . .” There was a girl with a bored-cool look on her face modeling a T-shirt with the peace sign and the “01.20.09.”

The thing about Bush’s last day: I’m not sure that America, or the world, will get much peace. And, in time — especially if the commander-in-chief is Hillary or Obama, or one of their Democratic brethren — Bush’s leadership will look very wise, I believe.

Wiser than that girl in the ad.

‐Along these lines: A reader writes to me,


Driving to work yesterday, I saw this vanity plate:



Or something!

‐Was I talking earlier about an ad?


Sorry no girl in T-shirt. We’ll work on that.

‐I must say, it’s been fun to inscribe this book, for Impromptus readers and others. Many of the inscription requests are a hoot. Some of them are . . . just a little naughty? And I’ve noticed a bit of a pattern. A lot of guys say, “Would you sign the book to my wife,” or girlfriend? “She’s a liberal, and I’ve been trying to convert her.” Funny thing is, I’ve had no requests the other way: Conservative wives or girlfriends buying for liberal husbands/boyfriends.

I’ll let you know if any comes in.

And I must tell you about a favorite inscription request. Guy said, “Jay, could you sign it, ‘Don’t tase me, bro’!’?” Of course!

‐I’d like to say a quick word about the police. The other day, on the Upper West Side of New York, there was this Santa — a man in a Santa suit. He was falling-down drunk, or crazy, or stoned, and he was harassing people. Cop came over, cuffed him, hauled him off — touching him quite a bit. He had to.

And I’m thinking: “What a job — where you have to touch such people.” And this was one of the cleaner jobs a policeman could face, I’m sure.

Let me state something elementary: Policemen do things, for us, that are distasteful to do. Of course, they brave great dangers. But they also touch people — I come back to this — touch people whom the rest of us would prefer not to touch (to put it mildly). And we don’t have to, because the police do.

There was this Santa, causing a problem. All of a sudden, this policeman showed up, and there was no more problem. It was a little miracle (of Christmas?). And I felt a surge of gratitude.

It’s said that men, many of them, join the police force because they want power, want to lord it over others, want to wear a uniform and carry a gun and strut around. No doubt this is the case, for many enlistees. My comment, for now (and I’m as sensitive to abuses as anyone): Whoop-dee-doo.

I will say again: Policemen do things that the rest of us don’t want to do, and, because they do them, we don’t have to. And I felt that surge of gratitude. And I thought I might express it, in this humble little webby forum.

Is that so bad? Make me Frank Rizzo or something?

Anyway . . .

‐Let’s have a little music — no, let’s have a lot of music. Hit you with some reviews, from the New York Sun.

For the tenor Matthew Polenzani, go here.

For Chanticleer, go here. (No rhyme intended.)

For the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under James Levine, with Renée Fleming, soprano soloist, go here.

For the King’s Singers, go here.

For the New York Philharmonic, under Philippe Jordan, with Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano soloist, go here.

For the Kirov Orchestra — more properly, the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater — go here.

And for Prokofiev’s War and Peace, at the Metropolitan Opera, go here.

Cripe, that was a lot. (And why waste your time reading music criticism? You’ve got Christmas albums to listen to.)

‐A musical note: I saw in the news the other day that a corn cob half eaten by David Beckham is up for sale (or was — I haven’t heard the latest). Reminded me of something: One evening, long ago, Franz Liszt stubbed out a cigar. A woman picked it up, tucked it in her cleavage, and kept it there for the rest of her life.

At least that’s what I read, moons ago, when I was a child.

‐Several Tuesdays ago, NRO published an excerpt from my book — a piece on those who have stopped reading the New York Times. I’ve published some mail on this subject — and will publish just a speck more.

Honored Sir –

My moment came when the Times started publishing articles about secret programs the U.S. had in place to combat terrorism. My pathetic little protest consisted of deleting the Times from my “bookmarks” (I gave up reading the paper version probably in the ’80s). And then not going to the site, even when there was an interesting post on Lucianne.com.

Understand. I’ve received a lot of mail like that. And a couple like this:

Yo, Jay –

If you get the Times, but only to do the crossword puzzles — does that count as not reading the Times?


‐Couple of columns back, I talked about the use — or rather, the misuse — of “myself.” Of the perils of “I,” “me,” and “myself.” Reader sent me this link to a scene from an Austin Powers movie. The relevant bit is about 55 seconds in — nice.

‐Finally, I haven’t done much on the “Christmas wars” this year, but I’ve got a letter for you. Well, I take that back, a little. In my review of the King’s Singers, linked to above, I mentioned that Lincoln Center billed this concert as a “Holiday Concert.” But the King’s Singers themselves, in their remarks to the audience, called their program a “Christmas concert” (which, of course, it was). From these six Englishmen, it was “Christmas” this, “Christmas” that. Obviously they’re foreigners, and don’t know our rules.

Anyway, that letter (from a gloriously principled and gumptious lady from the Left-wing Northwest):


My firm has, for a long time now, had Secret Santa gift exchanges. I have always participated — but am not doing so this year, because instead of having a Secret Santa Gift Exchange, we’re having a “Christmahanukwanza” Gift Exchange.

Of course, they left the picture of the cute elf on the sign-up sheet. Perhaps I should point out to them that they might be offending vertically challenged persons.

No doubt. Ho ho ho, y’all, and I’ll catch you soon.


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