Politics & Policy

Three of a kind, &c.

So, there’s a little Olympic boycotting going on — not by countries or teams, but by certain leaders. The three who recently said they would not travel to Communist China? Merkel of Germany, Tusk of Poland, Klaus of the Czech Republic. What do all three of those people have in common? Of course — they grew up under Communism. They know it.

Do we? I mean, sufficiently?

‐President Bush is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony. About this, Speaker Pelosi said, “I think the president might want to rethink this later, depending on what other heads of state do.”

That doesn’t sound very leaderly to me. And isn’t Bush famous for not conforming his actions to “what other heads of state do”?

‐I confess that it’s still somewhat difficult to type the words “Speaker Pelosi” — even at this late date . . .

‐Let me return to an old theme: It OUGHT to have been that way! Those black-church burnings: It OUGHT to have been that way! (In some sick, psychological, political way.) Landing in Bosnia under sniper fire: It OUGHT to have been that way!

Of course, the Clintons aren’t the only ones guilty of this kind of thinking, or feeling — far from it. But they are awfully prominent examples.

‐Have you noticed that some big-time liberals have been really, really unloading on Mrs. Clinton? I’m kind of startled to see this. For years, they wouldn’t say a word against her, and they wouldn’t hear a word against her. But then, her opponents were Ken Starr, Newt Gingrich, me, the Devil . . . (I guess I shouldn’t place myself in such august company.) And now her opponent is Barack, whom they like. So . . .

Let me put it another way: Before, it was too dangerous to criticize her. Because if you did so, you could give Jerry Falwell and me comfort. But now — there’s no danger at all. (Less’n she comes back and wins . . .)

‐Maybe I’m the last to know this, but I recently learned that Obama’s church espouses a “black value system” — that this is a raison d’être of the church. How depressing. How very depressing. A value system based on skin color? Rather than based on . . . well, you know: morality and principle and whatnot?

Just about the greatest thing this country has is E pluribus unum: Out of many, one. And the separatists and racialists and grievance-mongers have been picking at this, trashing this, for decades now. They have made horrifying progress.

I hope Obama does some explaining — a little more explaining — before he lands in the White House. He makes reference to “untrained ears.” Well, maybe he ought to train those ears, in some fashion . . .

‐Just in case you were sleeping a little too well at night:

BOGOTA, March 26 (Reuters) — Colombia said it seized at least 66 pounds (30 kg) of uranium from the country’s biggest left-wing rebel group on Wednesday, the first time radioactive material has been linked to the four-decade-old guerrilla war.

The uranium was found in a rural area long considered a Marxist guerrilla stronghold just south of the capital Bogota.

(For the complete article, go here.) Chávez & Co. are serious. Ahmadinejad & Co. are serious. So are the Norks. Good thing there are a few Uribes and Bushes around — and a few Boltons and Wolfowitzes. These next years will be all too exciting.

‐“Teach your children well,” goes the old hippie song. What are they teaching them in the PA (and I ain’t talkin’ Pennsylvania)?

A children’s puppet show featured on Hamas TV shows a child stabbing President Bush to death.

“Who are you to come here and threaten me?” Bush says in the puppet show video. “You are on my own turf, you little child, you. Get out.”

The child tells Bush that he killed his father in the Iraq war, which made him an orphan.

“I have come to take revenge with this sword — revenge for my mother and my sisters,” the child puppet says. “You are a criminal, Bush.”

“I will kill you, Bush, because that is your fate,” the child says before stabbing Bush repeatedly.

Great. Just great. If they get ’em from the cradle — what chance do they, and we, have? (By the way, I have quoted this item.)

‐Cal Thomas had an exceptionally stirring column. It addresses the recent conversion of Magdi Allam, whom the Pope baptized. I wish to quote one passage in particular. Thomas says that, during Allam’s baptism, “three bodyguards provided by the Italian government stood nearby. When someone converts to Islam in the West, there is no need for security.”

There is a whole lot in that statement — a world to ponder. Reminds me of that abhorrent movie The Last Temptation of Christ. A few Christians launched humble protests outside movie theaters, carrying around signs and so on. I’m sure the moviemakers simply chuckled, hoping for as much notoriety as possible. I asked, What if they made a similar movie about the Prophet? How long would they be alive? Twenty minutes? A half-hour?

‐This is a running theme of mine — another one: How come wire-service reports, which are supposed to be neutral, dry, just-the-facts, are loaded up with opinion? Take this, as a recent example. We read, “Last week, in a major foreign policy address, McCain laid out a robust national security policy, but offered olive branches to US allies alienated by the Bush administration’s go-it-alone approach.”

Now, I don’t think the Bush administration has had a go-it-alone approach. (They’ve been willing to act unilaterally when necessary.) But you may think so, and that’s just fine. But does that statement belong in a wire-service report — as a premise, simply a given truth? (I can hear a chorus of liberals saying, “Yes!”) (Well, it’s their media.)

‐Last night, I dipped into the new New Criterion, and it’s a garden of delight, as usual. I very much admired a review by Martin Gardner — of Peter Ackroyd’s new biography of Newton. I later went to Gardner’s Wikipedia entry. Do you know he was born in 1914? This was the year World War I began, of course. And Gardner has been churning out books faster than I can churn out Impromptus.

Just remarkable.

And, by the way, I talked to Bernard Lewis the other day — born in 1916. He could not have been more formidable, or more commanding, when he was 30, or 40, or 50. He simply couldn’t have been. Impossible.

My own contribution to the new New Criterion includes an account of a concert by the Kronos Quartet. May I share a bit of that with you? (It does not have to do with music, exactly.)

From Iran came a lullaby, or rather an arrangement of a lullaby . . . And the program notes are worth quoting a little. They complained that the Iranian government gets a bad rap, in part because “the West’s political agenda and media portrayal . . . are preoccupied with fundamentalist mullahs, oil reserves, and nuclear proliferation.” Yes, the thought of Armageddon — promised Armageddon — will preoccupy you a bit.

And then I quote those notes:

It’s true that when the Islamic Revolution swept away the Shah’s regime in 1979, in an excess of fundamentalist zeal, strict restrictions were placed on music. But apart from a ban on Westernized pop music, these restrictions were swiftly dropped. It’s often forgotten that the Iranian Revolution was as much about reclaiming traditional Persian culture as espousing an Islamist agenda. Indeed, the long-term musical effect of the revolution has been a revival of Persian classical music, which had suffered in the face of heavy Westernization during the Shah’s regime.

Folk music in Iran is a strong living tradition and has probably also been boosted by the “back-to-roots” aspects of the revolution . . .

Then my commentary:

This is a stunning apologia for the Iranian regime, and a dubious one, especially where the revolutionaries’ regard for “traditional Persian culture” is concerned. It proves the old point that anything will be defended, as long as it’s anti-Western. Consider just one practice of the Iranian regime: It stones to death young girls for the crime of having been gang-raped. And, incidentally, the Kronos Quartet — and its composer friends — would not last three days in Iran.

Anyway, just wanted you to see.

‐Received something hilarious from a friend of mine, an old Michigander, now in Seattle. Michigan is on very hard economic times, as you know. And an ingenious short film — whether specifically about Michigan or not — illustrates the point perfectly: here.

‐I just wrote “very hard economic times.” Maybe I should be a little more judicious. If these are “very hard economic times” — how do we talk about depressions, such as the Great one?

‐Let’s have a little language. A very good writer wrote the other day that someone had forbidden someone from doing something. I’m seeing that more and more. Used to be, “forbid to do something,” “prohibit from doing something.” “The law forbids you to smoke.” “The law prohibits you from smoking.”

Anyway . . .

‐Let’s have a little music — three reviews published in the New York Sun. For the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in recital, go here. For Prokofiev’s Gambler at the Metropolitan Opera, go here. And for Puccini’s Bohème at the Met, go here. On this occasion — the occasion of the Bohème — Franco Zeffirelli was honored.


‐So, I was in Starbucks (no apostrophe, right?), drinking a hot chocolate. And the cup has this political message. A guy named Chip Giller — I wrote his name down — is saying how dire global warming is, and dumping on the “skeptics.” And I’m just sitting here, trying to drink hot chocolate. Starbucks, in fine print, says this view is not its own.

Whatever. Is there any refuge from environmentalist lecturing? (Not at Starbucks, I realize.) Kind of reminds me of CNN in airports . . .

‐In last Friday’s Impromptus, I mentioned a bizarre — and, actually, deranged — review, published in Lawyers Weekly. It was of Martin Sieff’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East. A reader wanted me to say that Lawyers Weekly is not the Lawyers Weekly we have here in the United States — but rather one in Australia.


‐Finally, check out this:

Hey, Jay!

Want to drop a request. I’d love to know your golf fantasy foursome. All members must be alive. You made my list along with Alistair Begg and Tim Tebow. Trust me, it’d be a fun 18 holes. One sentence at the end of an Impromptus . . . I’m begging.

Well, I am mightily flattered. There are many possible answers — personal and less so. Do you mind if I stick to living golfers — living professional golfers? Tiger and Jack (of course). And who’s the fourth? Actually, I’d kind of like to play with Seve. I know he can’t hit it now. Neither can I.

See you.

P.S. I just want to emphasize that this is not my official foursome. I’d have to think about it more. And I’m rushing. But it’s not a bad one . . .

P.P.S. All-time fantasy foursome would have to be Jones, Hogan, and Jack. But how can I leave out Tiger? I think Hogan might have to go . . .

I don’t know.


The Latest