Politics & Policy

Axis time, &c.

Have a little tidbit for you, not the biggest thing in the world, not the littlest — of interest. Against the Tibetan people, Syria is standing strongly with China. You can see it in this announcement, from SANA, the Syrian Arab News Agency. Syria decries an “attempt to harm the unity of China’s people and land, as well as an attempt to distort the great world festivity represented by the Olympic Games.” And Syria makes clear its “solidarity” with Beijing.

Birds of a feather are flocking, and sticking, together. Chávez, Ahmadinejad, Kim, the worst of the Arabs, the Chicoms — all in bed, all looking out for one another. We see this in news report after news report, as the months roll on. The notion of an “axis,” much derided, is not silly.

‐Meant to include this in yesterday’s Impromptus — simply forgot. You know how Hillary Clinton said she was tired when talking about Bosnia, and landing amid sniper fire? That’s why she “misspoke” (over and over)? That is an old, old Clinton excuse. You remember Bill? Think extra-thick southern accent, now: “My mama always told me never to talk after 7 o’clock when I was tired.” Of course, he might have “misspoken” at noon. It didn’t matter . . .

‐Yesterday, Drudge linked to a bit of a standup routine by Randi Rhodes, the flamboyant left-wing talk-show host. Here ’tis. I listened to about 45 seconds of it — enough to hear her say that Dick Cheney had moved to Wyoming so that he would never have to see a black or a Jew.

A) Cheney’s family moved to Wyoming when he was a kid. But b) Doesn’t the vice president take orders from the Jews, particularly those in the Israeli government?

The freaky-hateful Left needs to get its story straight.

‐Was tickled by something Michael Gove wrote, in his (London) Times column (here). Gove, as you’ll remember, is both a writer and an MP. He wrote,

Why is the normally sensible David Owen joining in the unhappy game of psychoanalysing Tony Blair? His latest book puts the former Prime Minister on the couch, just as another ex-Labour MP, Leo Abse, did, and New Statesman tried to, all of them convinced that wanting to get rid of dictators was somehow a pathological disorder. . . . I fear all these writers say more about their judgment than Tony Blair’s in considering a desire to end tyranny a psychological flaw.

Thank you, Michael, thank you — perfect.

Reminds me of something Blair himself said. It was January 2005, and Bush had just taken the oath of office for the second time. His inaugural address was reviled, especially on the left. And Blair came to Davos and said — I paraphrase — “Why all this contempt toward Bush directed by the likes of us? I thought progressives were supposed to be all for liberty and against oppression.”

‐After the above-cited column, Michael Gove wrote one on anti-Semitism: how it is “finding new allies, making new connections, gathering new force.” If you care to read it, go here.

‐A few weeks ago, I had an item on the 70th anniversary of the Anschluss (this year). And I quoted a French scholar who lives in Vienna, Jerome Segal. His grandfather fled Austria. And the grandson had taken part in a 70th-anniversary ceremony.

He said something very interesting to the Associated Press: “I have basically no problem living here. It’s just Europe. But on some occasions, like today, I feel there’s something still not completely cleared in Austrian history.”

I was saying, in my column, that that sentiment was instantly familiar to me: I hear it rather a lot, when I’m in Austria, or in the neighborhood.

Anyway, Mr. Segal wrote me, and said the following:

I do indeed feel there is something “still not completely cleared in Austrian history.” Why do I feel this way? Consider a few items.

Otto Habsburg, son of the former emperor, says, “There is no bigger victim in World War II than Austria.” The best-known modern-art museum in Austria, the Leopold, still has spoliated paintings. And the museum’s director complains that the rightful inheritors of those paintings just want money. And the museum has just begun an exhibition — Albin Egger-Lienz — that includes at least 14 spoliated paintings, including one presented to Hitler on his 1939 birthday.

When I read and hear about things like this, I don’t feel very comfortable — and I understand why my grandmother (88) was angry that I decided to go live in this country!

I like to think that Mr. Segal and other conscientious citizens improve the atmosphere.

‐Shall we have a little music — a couple of reviews from the New York Sun? For the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, with Dame Felicity Lott, soprano soloist, go here. And for Kate Royal in recital, go here. (Royal is another British soprano — and royal indeed. As is Dame Felicity, or “Flott,” as she is affectionately known.)

‐A little language? I’ve been talking about Britain, and, a couple of days ago, I was on the phone with a British friend — Australian-born, actually. And he described something — a city — as “curate’s eggish.” Huh? I didn’t say anything. But after we got off the phone, I got on Wikipedia, source of all knowledge. And, behold:

The expression “a curate’s egg” originally meant something that is partly good and partly bad, but as a result is entirely spoilt. Modern usage has tended to change this to mean something having a mix of good and bad qualities; an example in conversation would be, “Ah Tisshaw, how was your holiday?” “Somewhat of a curate’s egg, I’m afraid; the hotel was top-notch, but the rain was most irksome.”

Got it!

Another language item? And a reader letter, at the same time:

Dear Jay,

Thanks for using the word “hooker” in your column today. [March 28.] I have missed it. Do you think you could find a way to say “rubber” instead of “condom” in some future column?

I’ll make a point of it!

‐Let’s have another letter, on a different subject:


I get a kick out of all the lefty bumper stickers your readers share with you, but I saw something that may be worse. My wife and I were driving home from work the other day and passed a car with the vanity plate “CRY4US.” Whether the driver wants us to “Cry for the U.S.” or simply to “Cry for Us,” he’s got issues.

Does he!

‐And let’s return to language, for a final item. As I mentioned in this column, I lectured on Wagner’s Walküre a couple of weeks ago at the Salzburg Easter Festival. And, prior to that, I was reading the libretto, pretty good. I studied the libretto — with its translations — that comes with the 1954 recording of the opera conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler.

Anyway, in Act III, Brünnhilde rides in furiously with a bedraggled, stunned, wanting-to-die Sieglinde. And the other Valkyries, of course, aren’t expecting Sieglinde. They’re expecting a dead (male) hero. So six of the Valkyries sing, to Brünnhilde, “Was ist mit dem Weibe?”

Or, as this English translation says, “What’s up with the woman?”

I just loved that: What’s up with the woman? Right out of today’s talk.

Have a great weekend.


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