Politics & Policy

Clinging, &c.

Remember when Barack Obama said that you boobish Middle Americans cling to your guns and religion? Well, if he confiscates the first, you’d better cling all the tighter to the second.

‐Once you’ve messed with one amendment, messing with the others gets so much easier.

‐The honest thing, of course, is to repeal — to repeal an amendment you don’t like. The Constitution has always allowed for that.

‐Over the years, some people have wondered how religious Obama is. I think he may well have answered that question in 2008. He was speaking to a big-money audience in San Francisco, you remember — his donors. The audience was heavily secular, no doubt. And he talked about little people in little towns who “cling” to their religions.

Well, everyone who’s religious clings to his religion! Any believer, certainly any religious person, is a clinger.

No religious person, in my view, would say that another “clings to his religion.” He for sure wouldn’t say it disparagingly. Clinging is simply assumed, and approved.

You know what I mean?

‐Have no fear about the Second Amendment. We all know how impervious Chief Justice Roberts is to political pressure, especially coming from this president and his allies.

‐That ought to be a real sweet meeting between Obama and Roberts, at the upcoming inauguration. Have you ever had the sense that Roberts very much wants Obama’s approval? “Please don’t hate me. Me may be a wee bit conservative, but me not bad person.”

‐Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, is thought to be a wild card on Hagel. Will he vote to confirm or not?

I feel confident that he’ll vote to confirm. Schu, when you get right down to it, is a Democrat and lefty. The Democrats’ imperative right now is to confirm this Republican ex-senator. He is at one with them — even to the point of endorsing Democratic candidates (beginning with Obama himself).

I think Schu’ll be there, at the end of the day. He’ll announce that Hagel has assuaged his concerns about the Middle East. Oh, yes.

‐For some, it is far harder to stand up to Obama than to stand up to the mullahs and jihadists.

‐When people express surprise or shock at Obama’s moves — and the second term hasn’t even begun yet — I want to say to them, “What part of ‘fundamental transformation’ didn’t you understand?”

The American people, the majority of them, have asked for exactly what they’re getting.

‐In a news article the other day, I read some of the sweetest words I’ve read in ages. They were the first words of the article: “Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst . . .”

Yes, he is still lieutenant governor, because the upstart Ted Cruz beat him in the Republican senatorial primary. Dewhurst was the heavy favorite, and had much more money. But Ted came in, convinced the people, and took it. He was sworn in on January 3.


‐I remember what a lot of us said in 2004: “The French are always scolding us Americans for acting ‘unilaterally.’ Or for acting without the blessing of the blessed U.N. But here they are, all by themselves, without anyone’s permission, cracking heads in the Ivory Coast. Funny.”

Now they are acting in Mali. I kind of like it when the French step up.

But, oh, what hypocrites — and anti-American hypocrites, to boot.

‐It took me a while, but I learned to say “Sudan,” rather than “the Sudan.” It’s taking me longer with “Ivory Coast.”

‐Every once in a while, I’ll do a post and head it “A Typical Day in Cuba.” You can’t comment on all atrocities and outrages. But you should glance in, every now and then.

Here is something that might be headed “A Typical Day in the Arab World.” I quote from the Daily Mail:

Syrian rebels beheaded a Christian man and fed his body to dogs, according to a nun who says the West is ignoring atrocities committed by Islamic extremists.

The nun said taxi driver Andrei Arbashe, 38, was kidnapped after his brother was heard complaining that fighters against the ruling regime behaved like bandits.

She said his headless corpse was found by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs. He had recently married and was soon to be a father.

The full article — not that I read on — is here. In an unremitting stream, human-rights groups and other organizations send such news into my inbox. After five or ten years of this, it’s easy to think, “Ho-hum.” But that must be resisted.

‐I have asked a question for as long as I can remember: Why do individuals in police states act with reckless bravery? Why do they stick their neck out? Why do they risk imprisonment and torture — even ensure it?

These questions swirled again as I read this story: which tells of an artist in Beijing, Liu Yi, who has devoted himself to a series of portraits of those Tibetans who have immolated themselves.

Why does he do this? Why doesn’t he paint flowers or something? Doesn’t he know the possible consequences? Yes, he undoubtedly does — but he paints those portraits anyway. He can do no other, apparently.

A marvel.

‐Let’s have a little language. One of the things a writer ought to pay attention to is the placement of “only.” This has been a bit of a cause of mine for many, many years.

The other day, I saw a headline in a British publication: “Face it, we only matter to Obama as part of the EU.” Oh, what a better headline with the “only” placed before “as part of the EU”!

‐A little more language? Not long ago, people made fun of a TV personality for mispronouncing the name of a Gershwin song. He said “Ess Wonderful.” Not “S’Wonderful,” but “Ess Wonderful.”

I thought of this when going to a new eatery near National Review’s offices. Formally, it is Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese. Informally, it’s S’mac. Not Ess Mac, mind you, but “smack.”

I’m not sure I can blame the TV personality all that much. Sometimes the title of the song is written “S’Wonderful.” Sometimes it’s “’S Wonderful.” The second is a little hard to read, for the untutored (i.e., for those who don’t know the song).

(Not knowing the song is a whole ’nother problem.)

‐Speaking of music: My latest column in CityArts is here. It’s a preview of the New York concert and opera scene, but it may be of interest to those outside the city nonetheless . . .

‐More music, in a way? This is a true tale from Sunday school. From yesterday. The class is of four- and five-year-olds.

Teacher: “Elliott, what’s a hymn?”

Elliott: “A boy?”

Ah, homonyms . . .

‐Kind of related: “US tax code longer than Bible — without good news.” The best headline I’ve seen in many a moon. And from the Associated Press! (Article here.)

‐A little baseball? Our Jack Morris has once more failed to be elected to the Hall of Fame. And when I say “our,” I mean, of course, the Detroit Tigers’. (Pardon me for assuming that all of you are Tiger fans.) For a fascinating article on his wait — his “ordeal,” as he says — go here.

If he were elected, he’d have the highest ERA of any pitcher in the hall: 3.90. Morris says interesting things about this — including, “When did we decide that earned-run average was more important than wins?” Morris was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s.

Anyway, a most interesting article, which I commend to you, no matter whom you root for.

‐Let’s end with Yale — with the William F. Buckley, Jr., Program at Yale. The Buckley program had a conference on the last day of November. (I mean, the conference wasn’t about the last day of November. It was held on November 30.) I wrote a little about it in a December Impromptus. The theme of the conference was Whittaker Chambers’s great book, Witness — which was published 60 years ago. (Anniversaries are irresistible to organizers of all types.)

There was a slew of top-notch speakers, including Norman Podhoretz, worth the price of admission all by himself (not that tickets were sold, to my knowledge). The conference had three panels, three speakers each. I was on a panel with Elliott Abrams and Max Boot.

At the Buckley program’s website, you will find videos of all this. Knock yourself out, here.

And thanks for joining me. Have a good week!


To order Jay Nordlinger’s book Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.


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