Politics & Policy

Three un-give-up-ables, &c.

As I did not quite get to wish you Merry Christmas before the 25th, may I say a belated Merry Christmas — and an early Happy New Year? I also wanted to address a little unfinished Christmas business: Most every year, we talk about Christmas music, and regular readers know that I love pretty much all Christmas music — from Gregorian chant to “Santa Baby.” Many people have written me this year about favorite albums, favorite tracks.

Well, I will give you three of my favorite tracks — not my very favorite, because that would be impossible to decide. But three favorites — and they will all be different:

1) Leontyne Price singing “O Holy Night” (on this album); 2) Chanticleer (a twelve-man a cappella group) singing “Oh Jerusalem in the Morning” (here); and 3) George Shearing grooving on “Ding Dong! Merrily . . .” (here).

Really, we should talk about Christmas music all year long — but we have other work to do . . .

‐. . . such as discussing New Year’s Eve music. But you can’t get much beyond Guy Lombardo and one very good Scottish song, can you?

‐Quick, what’s the most mispunctuated song in Christmas music, and perhaps in all music? Easy: “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.”

‐Wanted to draw your attention to a statement by Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, talking about the “insurgents” in Iraq — who had recently tried to blow up the Mosul Dam. “We have some intelligence that says it was part of a bigger plot,” he said. “I personally think it is an additional indicator that these people who are trying to disrupt the people of Iraq will do anything to screw up the people of Iraq.” (For a full report, go here.)

These people who are trying to disrupt the people of Iraq will do anything to screw up the people of Iraq. Well put, General Hertling.

‐These days, President Bush is supposed to be political poison, and he often seems virtually friendless. So I was interested to see that Mitt Romney, out in Iowa, spoke positively about the president. Sure, he was jabbing at Governor Huckabee, who had blasted Bush (stupidly and naively). Even so . . .

Said Romney, “I support our troops, and I support what our troops are doing. I also support our president. I believe that the president has acted in good faith and out of a desire to protect this country — to do everything in his power to keep America safe.” He also said, “The president is a person who is deeply devoted to this country and doing what’s right for this country, and protecting American lives.”

Yes. Romney has many critical words for Bush, as he should, and as any thinking person should. But he also doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. And this shows maturity, judgment, no matter what the political calculations. You know?

(For the relevant news article, go here.)

The year 1977 was, for Carver, a new and miraculous beginning. His collection was nominated for a National Book Award. Even more surprising, on June 2nd, after a series of hospitalizations, he quit drinking, and stayed sober for the rest of his life. “I guess I just wanted to live,” he recalled.

I guess I just wanted to live. I’m not sure we’ve read more meaningful or stirring words all year.


‐In recent columns, we’ve had some fun with inscriptions — requests for inscriptions in the above-advertised book. Here’s one for you: I have an article in there about dealing with nasty, ideological bookstore clerks. And I used some testimony from Impromptus readers. One man is a fan of Rush Limbaugh — as most sensible people are — and his mother went to a store to find a book by Rush. Christmas was coming.

The clerk, of course, steered this lady to a book attacking Rush. Said my reader, “Who would be so horrible as to take advantage of a little old lady buying a Christmas present for her son?”

Well, the mother was not exactly thrilled to see herself described in National Review as “a little old lady.” So the son, buying my collection for his mom, said, “Could you inscribe it to ‘the youngest little old lady in the store’?” An inspired idea, I thought.

One man, after receiving his copy, wrote to me, “My gosh, it’s almost as good as getting a new Lewis Grizzard” — which, because the note came from Athens, Tenn., I thought was pretty high praise! Grizzard is to the South as Ayn Rand is to . . . well, Libertarianville.

‐I have another letter I thought was quite interesting. In a column last week, I happened to say that Al Gore, in 2000, won the popular vote. A reader objected,

“Popular vote” is a neat phrase, but there is no such thing as a national popular vote. There are 50 statewide votes (plus D.C.). The simplest explanatory example I can think of is the 1960 World Series. It went seven games. The Yankees scored 55 runs. The Pirates scored just 27. The Pirates won four games, and the series. They weren’t playing to see who’d score the most runs over seven games.

Something to ponder . . .

‐You may recall that, in that column of last week, I cited a piece in the Minneapolis paper by Katherine Kersten — a brave piece about the takeover of a “meditation room” at a local college by one religion, and one religion only. You may like to know that Kersten has a blog, here, in which she clears the Minnesota air. The physical air is always pretty clear; the political-cultural air — in the Twin Cities — not so much so.

‐Do you want to see a photo designed to make Bush-haters gag — to make Bush/Cheney-haters gag? It shows that pair thoughtful and purposeful: the very picture of wise leadership. Here ya go. Send it to the leftist you love. In fact, a shame it’s too late to put it on your Christmas card . . .

‐Speaking of Bushes: 41 will receive one of the best awards in the country: the Bob Jones Award, from the United States Golf Association. The former president’s family has long been big in golf. The Walker Cup is named for his grandfather; and his dad was president of the USGA. Only one other time has the Jones Award been given to someone who was not a professional golfer: In the late 1970s, it was given to Hope and Crosby, jointly. (They did a heck of a lot to popularize the game.)

For a news article, go here.

Personally, if I had to choose between winning a Nobel Prize and the Bob Jones Award — well, I would waver . . .

‐Care for a little music, to go with your golf and politics? For a review of the New York Philharmonic, under Nicholas McGegan, performing Handel’s Messiah, go here. And for a review of the pianist Yefim Bronfman in recital, go here. These reviews were published in the New York Sun.

‐How about some further dips into the mailbag?


In Ottawa recently, I was confined for a bit with a young woman, mid-20s, in her last year of college. Of course, she wanted to talk politics. Which means, how horrible America is and has been (Nicaragua and such). She learned this in her first politics-and-policy class. She is “into” “alternative histories.”

I am gentle, old, and averse to confrontations. Here’s how our conversation went:

Her: Well, all countries have bad histories. [But her only examples were the U.S. and Canada.]

Me: Yes, well, you know, England occupied India for a very long time.

Her: I know. Where are our Gandhis today?

Me: Well, Oscar Biscet is one.

Her: Who is that?

Me: He is a political prisoner in Cuba. Bush just gave him the Medal of Freedom. You should check it out.

Nicely done.

And I have been running letters from lawyers who either quit the ABA or never joined in the first place. This leads to a broader discussion about professional organizations and ideology. Try this letter:


The letters from lawyers who quit the ABA struck a nerve with me. See, I’m a research chemist for a major chemical company. For years, it was expected of us that we join the American Chemical Society (and pay for it ourselves, as this saved the company money when we went to the semi-annual conferences). Well, the ACS publishes a trade magazine that comes out weekly and supposedly informs us of the important events that have happened in the chemical world (both academic and industrial). Over the last 20 or so years that I was a member, more and more academics seemed to get control of the magazine, and tilted it further and further leftward.

Well, it got so bad about five years ago that I finally canceled my membership. I know of several other chemists who have quit for the same reason (though not enough, unfortunately).

I know you’re hearing from other folks in other professional societies with similar stories. Seems like all of these organizations have been taken over by the Left. My theory is that most of us on the right are too busy doing our jobs to be bothered with politicizing our professions.

Try another letter:

Dear Mr. Nordlinger,

I resigned from the ABA when I was still a junior lawyer, after they led the borking of Bork, and never looked back. I am, by the way, admitted to the bar in New York, Connecticut, and Illinois. It’s the utter ideological blindness that drives me batty. “Oh, we’re not ideological or political at all, it’s just that the essence of being a lawyer committed to justice and the Constitution is to favor abortion rights, oppose conservative judges, oppose the death penalty, favor judicial oversight over spy agencies and war-fighting, oppose the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, favor racial quotas in law-school admissions, favor gay marriage,” and so on.

I have had the same problem with the Union of Reform Judaism, which is the umbrella group for Reform Jews in the U.S. They somehow think that being Jewish requires being a sock-puppet for the DNC. I can’t resign, since (I believe) only synagogues are members, but I have told them they can forget about any financial contributions from me.

I am, however, a member of the Federalist Society (gasp!) and the Republican Jewish Coalition (double gasp!).

And a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

I think that’s one of the best sentences I’ve read all year:  “They somehow think that being Jewish requires being a sock-puppet for the DNC.”  And this letter has a P.S.:

By the way, my daughter has returned from her first semester at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, which she loves [?]. Next semester she is taking a required “race and ethnicity” seminar, and my advice to her was to say as little as possible and give whatever answers the instructor wants to hear. I told her it’s just like being in the old Soviet Union: Sometimes you have to parrot the nonsense that the apparatchiks expect. If she were in the law school I would tell her to be pugnacious (even left-wing law professors like a good argument), but there’s no point in doing that in a freshman seminar where the very purpose is indoctrination.

I don’t know . . . about that leniency in law school.

Switching gears, a little fun with names?


I think you’ll like this — a name from the Philippines. It is Luzviminda, a female name common to women of a certain age. This is a wonderful combination of the names of the three main island groups in the archipelago: LUZ from Luzon, VI from Visayas, and MINDA from Mindanao. Luzviminda!


‐You know, dearhearts, that “Don’t tase me, bro’” is my favorite phrase of 2007. (The wide-stance business is far behind.) Come to found out, via this article, that this is pretty much officially the Top Quote of ’07. I am not much of a bandwagoneer: but the world is right to like chocolate, and it is right to like “Don’t tase me, bro’”!

See you soon, bros and bro-ettes.


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