Politics & Policy

Breaking the cycle, &c.

Someone in the Arab world has to break the cycle. Here I borrow a page from my colleague, friend, and hero David Pryce-Jones. Somebody’s got to break the cycle. What cycle is that? You know: The ruler comes in by murder and he goes out by murder. He gains power by murdering and he loses power by being murdered.

We have seen it a lot in the Arab world, and we’ve just seen Qaddafi cut down in the street. I’m glad the gaudy old monster is gone. I’m especially glad he isn’t ruling over anyone anymore. But we could have used a bit of Nuremberg: What about those thousand or so prisoners you murdered in the courtyard, Moammar? What about Lockerbie? Etc.

Rotation — orderly, bloodless, humdrum rotation — in office. One of the many gifts we perhaps take for granted.

‐For DP-J’s superb note on Qaddafi’s demise, go here.

#ad#‐I’ve quoted to you before what Jimmy Carter said in 2009 on receiving an award from the PLO: “I have been in love with the Palestinian people for many years.” He has been far less in love, of course, with the Israeli people, and with Jewish people in general.

Most of us fall in love with individuals. I believe it’s true that Carter fell in love with Palestinians as a class. I think his love is not pure, however, because I think it comes from, or at least is fed by, his hatred of the Israelis.

I thought of Carter’s love when I observed the Palestinians’ celebration of the return of their 1,027 terrorists in exchange for the soldier Shalit. Of all the peoples in the world, the Palestinians can be very hard to love.

Of course, we also must recognize that they have been lied to, by their leaders and propagandists, their entire lives. They have been betrayed by their politicians, capos, and intellectuals — Edward Said, for one (a big one).

‐I have a memory from the contra-aid debate, many years ago. Polls showed that a majority opposed contra aid. Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican, said something like, “If all I knew about Nicaragua came from the mainstream media, I’d oppose contra aid too.” I loved him for that.

‐Back to Professor Said for a minute: I have once or twice quoted Paul Johnson, who called him a “malevolent liar and propagandist, who has been responsible for more harm than any other intellectual of his generation.”

Nice goin’, Ed.

‐There are two sides to Joe Biden — at least two sides. One is the jovial pol who’s a little bit goofy. Then there’s the nasty piece of work who says that, if you don’t pass the Obama administration’s latest stimulus, you’ll have rape and murder on your hands.

Which Joe is the “real Joe”? I have always thought Biden was nastier than most people gave him “credit” for. Of course, I watched the Bork hearings. The job they did on Bork was one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen in my entire life.

And the judge is one of the more impressive people you’ll ever meet. Great sense of humor, for one thing.

‐The presidential election next year ought to be a field day for Republican ad makers. The material is so rich. Let’s have a statement from Biden: “In my wildest dreams, I never thought it would work this well.” He was talking about the 2009 stimulus that poured so much of our money down a rat hole.

Another ad? I noted this in a Thomas Sowell column the other day: “Like so many people, in so many countries, who started out to ‘spread the wealth,’ Barack Obama has ended up spreading poverty.” Yes, statists and collectivists are pretty good poverty-spreaders.

Maybe “Joe the Plumber” should appear in an ad? He’s the commoner whom Candidate Obama — soon to be King Barack — rebuked in 2008. Remember what he said? He said, in essence, he was going to “spread the wealth around.” How has that worked out for the country (not to mention Joe)?

Last time out, Oprah Winfrey proclaimed Obama, rather dramatically, “the one” (I’m not sure whether that “o” should be capitalized). Let’s have that clip in an ad, followed by “I don’t think so” or some such remark. Louis Farrakhan proclaimed Obama the Messiah, as in, “When the Messiah speaks, the youth will hear, and the Messiah is absolutely speaking.” Again, I don’t think so.

The minister is not too high on Obama now, given the NATO war against Farrakhan’s friend Moammar Qaddafi (someone admired by the president’s ex-pastor, Jeremiah Wright, too). Still, Farrakhan in an ad, hailing Obama as the Messiah, would be great.

Hang on, got one more, for now: Susan Sarandon. The timelessly beautiful actress said of Obama, “He is a community organizer like Jesus was, and now we’re a community and he can organize us.”

How’s that workin’ out, y’all?

‐I was reading a dispatch from Tom Gross yesterday, and pondered this paragraph:

Following a previous earthquake in Turkey, an Israeli rescue team pulled a 10-year-old girl from the rubble after she had been trapped for nearly 100 hours. The Israelis rescued 11 other people alive and recovered 140 bodies. But now Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan refused an Israeli offer of help following yesterday’s devastating earthquake in Turkey.

Allow me to quote from an Impromptus in January 2010:

As you may have read, Israel has played a big role in relieving Haiti, following the hugely destructive earthquake. Unfortunately, the Israelis have a lot of experience in digging people out of rubble, etc. They are a people who have faced bombings over and over. At the end of 2003, there was a major earthquake in Bam, Iran. (Yeah, I know: “Bam,” an earthquake.) The Israelis were alacritous: They wanted to send rescue workers immediately. There was no time to waste, and Israel was very close, physically, to Iran. But Iran refused this aid and expertise. The government preferred that people die rather than suffer the ignominy of being rescued by Jews. This episode was a further indication of the psychosis prevalent in the Middle East. Fortunately, Haiti, for all of its sufferings, does not suffer from that.

Yes, Haiti is one up on someone, somewhere, in some fashion. Haiti saner than Turkey, as well as the mullahs’ Iran? It would seem.

#page#‐President Obama at last does something quite good, signing three free-trade agreements — and he cancels the Rose Garden ceremony in which he was scheduled to do the signing. He signs the agreements behind closed doors.

Great, great: A little light, and the president wants to hide it under a bushel. Afeared of offending his base, I guess. (Still, it’s encouraging that he signed those agreements, late as his signatures came.)

#ad#‐In my October 6 Impromptus, I commented on the self-immolation by Tibetan monks: Five of them had set themselves on fire in protest of Communist persecution. This community seems at the end of its rope. I see now that the number is up to eight monks, plus one nun — and that our State Department has issued a “statement of concern.”

Tibet is easy to forget, except by Richard Gere. But it should not be, you know? Even as you get along, as get along you must, to a degree, with the beasts in Beijing.

Last week, I eulogized Laura Pollán, the founder of the Ladies in White, the Cuban human-rights group. She died on October 14. I did not mention that the Cuban opposition suspected foul play — suspected, to be blunt, murder. The invaluable Mary Anastasia O’Grady has written a column on the subject, which you can read here. Those suspicions? Perfectly understandable.

‐While we’re on the subject of the murder of innocent ladies by Communist dictatorships: Wang Chunxiang, 55, has died in China. As this report will tell you, she “was abducted in October 2006 after a plainclothes police officer followed her home and then found Falun Gong related materials and a printer in her home . . .” Wang was packed off to Liaoning Province Women’s Prison.

“Over the next five years, her health deteriorated badly due to torture and being denied medical attention. On September 25, 2011, prison authorities alerted her family members that she had died.”

Funny about torture: It makes your health deteriorate. When democratic countries deal with Communist China, I ask one thing of them: that they remember they’re dealing with a government that tortures innocent women to death.

That’s all.

‐In a column I’ve already linked to — this one — I mentioned Lech Walesa, and his intention to visit Occupy Wall Street in order to give succor to the protesters. I quoted something from an interview I had with him last year, in which he made a critique of capitalism. Well, Walesa has learned more about Occupy Wall Street — its nature — and decided to keep his distance. You can read about it at Big Government, here. The great man made the right call, as he usually does.

‐I was interested to read this article, which discusses Larry Ellison and the many homes he has bought — we’re not talkin’ little studio apartments either. Let me quote a portion:

Since the mid-1990s, software billionaire Larry Ellison has accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars[’] worth of top-shelf properties around the world. The portfolio of Oracle Corp.’s co-founder includes five adjacent lots in Malibu, Calif.; a Newport, R.I., mansion formerly owned by the Astor family; a historic garden property in Kyoto and an estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif., with a private, 19-hole golf course.

I was amused by that “19-hole” — does that include the bar and grill?

Furthermore, I was reminded of a story that David P-J told me, long ago. I’ll screw it up, but I know the punch line. The Duke of Bedford was one of the richest men in Britain. He had many houses, many estates. Some official came to him and said they had to do some economizing. The duke bristled. The poor official said, “Well, let’s take [a particular estate], for example. You’ve never even been there. Can’t we at least start by firing the pastry chef?”

The duke replied, “Mayn’t a man have a biscuit in his own house?”

‐Let’s have a little language. A young lady wrote me,


My parents and I had a rather interesting debate, and they suggested I ask for your thoughts, for they hold you in high regard. The matter was this: When you write a list, should you put a comma before the “and”? This comma is commonly referred to as the “Oxford comma.” My friends and I have debated its use — as all teenagers do — and I recently asked my parents for their opinions. They responded strongly that they do not use the Oxford comma.

However, I strongly believe that the comma is necessary to avoid ambiguity. Take this sentence: “I invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.” Now here it is without the Oxford comma: “I invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.” Although both of these sentences are acceptable, I think the second one implies that JFK and Stalin are the strippers. Therefore, in my humble opinion, the Oxford comma is necessary.

My parents and I look forward to your opinion.

That was some example she offered, huh? About the strippers, Uncle Joe, and our 35th president?

Anyway, I responded,

Please give my apologies to your parents, because I believe in backing parents over their children! But I agree with you. (Your parents can send me to my room without dessert.)

Often, a serial comma, or Oxford comma, is necessary to avoid ambiguity, as you say. One of the publications I write for has a no-serial-comma policy. I find myself having to “write around” this, which can be frustrating.

Again, my apologies to your parents! But please tell them that some of the best and most elegant writers in history never used that comma, and some of them never even heard of it.

Our young reader responded, in part,

Thanks for backing me on this! It’s nice to have finally won at least one argument with my parental units!

I hope and trust I have not caused lasting upset in the family.

And I hope you have a bang-up day! (Interesting that “bang-up” should be positive.) See you.



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