Politics & Policy

Mega-cheers for honesty, &c.

At the end of December, the New York Times published an op-ed piece by a Georgetown law professor, Louis Michael Seidman. The title of the piece was “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution.” I suspect this will be a theme of the Left in coming years: “The Constitution is standing in the way of what we want to achieve. Time to scrap that musty old document, written by slaveholders in wigs.”

I like this approach, frankly — much more honest than, “The Constitution will mean what I say it means, on a given day. When I change my mind, or have a certain whim, then the Constitution will mean that. The Constitution is made of Play-Doh, and I bend it to my will.”

Have I ever told you about my favorite kind of gun-controller? The gun-controllers I admire are the ones who say, “We have to repeal the Second Amendment.” That I can respect (though I would fight repeal tooth and nail). This is a better stance than, “You boobs may think that the Second Amendment gives you gun rights, but you’re wrong.” It’s also better than pretending that the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights don’t exist.

Honesty, honesty — what more can we want in argument and politics? In election season, I’m always pleading for candidates to campaign honestly. To just say what they believe, whatever it is. If you want a socialist state, or a European-style social democracy — say so, forthrightly. Make your case.

It’s the Alinskyism — the deception — that’s so awful.

‐When Nixon lost the California gubernatorial election in 1962, an aide tried to console him. Nixon — who had been vice president for eight years and loved the big, global issues — said, “Oh, that’s all right. At least I won’t have to talk about crap like drug abuse anymore.”

Obama’s winning reelection must be a relief to him. Never again will he have to say things like, “America is the greatest nation on earth.” In his two campaigns — 2008 and 2012 — he always said them, when he had to say them, like a hostage with a gun in his back. He might as well have blinked “T-O-R-T-U-R-E.”

‐I have a few thoughts on that little pep rally Obama held, when he was negotiating with the Republicans over the budget.

Obama’s fans cheered when he told them he was going to be raising taxes on the “rich,” as the Democrats conceive them. I thought of what he said toward the end of the campaign: “Voting is the best revenge.”

What a lovely value in a democracy, revenge.

I also thought, for the millionth time, of JFK’s putdown of Nixon: “No class.” Obama is just impossibly vulgar and divisive. No class.

Remember when people said, in 2008, that Obama had a “first-class temperament”? Some of his policy views may be a little “out there,” but, by golly, he has a first-class temperament.

His temperament may be the thing I like least about him — worse than his policies.

‐I saw a headline that said, “Egypt prosecutors investigate popular TV comedian.” The article began, “Egyptian prosecutors launched an investigation on Tuesday against a popular television satirist for allegedly insulting the president . . .”

I thought, “That could never happen here. What TV comedian or satirist would insult Obama?”

‐In his life of politics, Chuck Hagel has offended a lot of people. He is the former Nebraska senator who is apparently Obama’s first choice for secretary of defense. He has offended Jews, supporters of Israel (not necessarily the same thing as Jews), conservative Republicans, gays, and others.

A recent headline read, “Former Sen. Chuck Hagel apologizes for gay comment.”

I thought, “Aha — tells you which way the wind is blowing. Tells you where the culture is. Zeitgeist City.”

You can snort at the “Jewish lobby” all you want, but if you insult the gays, you’d better scramble. Highly interesting.

‐By now, you may have heard about this story: A woman in Oregon bought some Halloween decorations at Kmart. She discovered in the package a letter from an inmate in the Chinese gulag — a cry for help.

Slave labor in China is one of the most underreported stories in the world. (So is Chinese organ harvesting.)

Some years ago, I interviewed a Chinese ex-political prisoner named Charles Lee. He was a Falun Gong practitioner. In between bouts of torture, he was made to work. He put together Christmas lights. (That adds insult to injury, somehow.) He also made Homer Simpson bedroom slippers. You slipped your foot where Homer’s mouth was.

I wish there were a way of knowing: of knowing which products are free-labor and which products are slave-labor. Can Kmart, in its wisdom, come up with a way? Can Walmart? Can anybody?

‐A couple of Occupy types have been arrested for bombmaking in Greenwich Village — you can read a story here. What is it about the Village and bombmaking?

In 1970, some Weather people on W. 11th Street blew themselves up, as they were plotting to blow innocent others up. Bill Clinton commuted the sentences of Weather types in the last hours of his presidency. The affinity of the mainstream Left for the violent Left is a fascinating and terrible subject. I have spent a fair amount of time on it.

One of this year’s bombers is Morgan Gliedman, the 27-year-old daughter of a prominent New York doctor. So beautiful, so privileged, so full of promise. How many lives over the centuries has extremist ideology ruined?

This struck a little close to home. I’m from Ann Arbor, Mich., and know Geddes Road very well.

A speaker at a union rally — a minister, a man of the cloth — said, “Just know one thing, Rick Snyder: You sign that bill, you won’t get no rest. We’ll meet you on Geddes Road. We’ll be at your daughter’s soccer game. We’ll visit you at your church. . . . By any means necessary.”

Snyder is the governor of Michigan. Apparently, he lives on Geddes Road.

Nobody, but nobody, in America cares about leftist violence, intimidation, and thuggery — the Left’s contempt for democratic politics. And by “nobody,” I mean nobody in Hollywood, academia, the mainstream media . . . All the fields that count. The fields that, by their own caring, make others care.

Do you know what I mean by this?

If tea partiers threatened a liberal governor — “We’ll be at your daughter’s soccer game” — this would be the biggest story in America. It would be on the front page of every newspaper and blare from television all day.

Can anyone deny this? Really? The editor of the New York Times: Would even he deny it? (It’s a she now, actually.)

‐If you’re casting about for a hero, try Robert Griffin III, the Washington Redskins quarterback. He’s a graduate of Baylor — whose president is Ken Starr.

Let me quote from an article in mid-December:

“For me, you don’t ever want to be defined by the color of your skin,” Griffin said at the end of Wednesday’s post-practice news conference in reference to a question about Martin Luther King, Jr. “You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That’s what I’ve tried to go out and do.

“I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that.”

Whoa. How refreshing, and un-American (in modern terms). Needless to say, Griffin has caught grief for his stance. Anyone taking such a stand will catch grief. I hope he stays strong. The god of this country, I’ve observed many times, is race. And if you don’t bow down to race — the believers in this god can be very, very nasty.

All of the above-linked article is worth reading. Griffin is both wise and subtle (subtle in the good sense, I hasten to say).

‐More Griffin? Okay, try this. Someone asked him, “Everybody fears something. What was your biggest fear coming to Washington, D.C., to be an NFL quarterback?” Griffin said, “You try not to fear too many things. I fear God.”

Again, whoa. Is this allowed in America? Can you fear God and not, say, The Today Show? Or Jon Stewart? Or that young actress who made the sex ad for Obama?

I say again, stay strong, RG3 — this country needs you.

‐Let’s have a little music. For a column in CityArts, go here. I touch on a singer, a violinist, and a pianist: Joyce DiDonato, Frank Peter Zimmermann, and Yefim Bronfman.

‐Some more music? I was reading this article, in advance of the Outback Bowl, pitting Michigan against South Carolina. (We don’t have to talk about the outcome.) The article said, “The last time Michigan played South Carolina, Ronald Reagan was in office, the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey was being played while the Wolverines took the field before the Gamecocks — and U-M proceeded to stomp the home team, 34-3, behind Jim Harbaugh at quarterback.”

I smiled at that “theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey.” This film has a lot of music in it, but I imagine the writer was alluding to the Strauss tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra.

How would Strauss feel about having his piece referred to as “the theme from 2001”? I think he would appreciate the royalty checks, regardless.

‐Let’s have a little language. A reader writes,


My sister Heidi helped one of her elderly friends with a tag that was sticking out of her dress. The friend told her, “Oh, I wanted you to know it was a boughten dress.” We’re from Utah and I believe the friend was raised in Wyoming. It’s one of our favorite words now.

Oh, yes. I grew up with the phrase “homemade or boughten?” I miss it — will likely never hear it again.

By the way, I had a friend — the son of a sharecropper in the Deep South — who referred to surgically inflated breasts as “store-bought.” (Which gives us the phrase “natural or store-bought?”)

Wish you could have heard him . . .

‐Speaking of the South, I was in rural South Carolina the other day. Took some long walks. Everyone was very friendly — even the dogs, and I have always been wary of rural dogs. Because of experience.

One man in a pickup stopped and asked whether I wanted a ride. That’s neighborliness.

At a different point, I found myself on a narrow dirt lane — a lane that bisected a big cattle farm. In the field to my left were about 50 big black cows. In the field to the right were about 50 more of the same. No one else was around — no other human being, I mean.

The cows on either side lined up and looked at me, as though I were the most important thing in the world, or the only thing in the world. Then they stampeded toward me — loud, unhappy, intensely interested.

Never have I been more grateful for barbed wire. I was thinking, “Is there enough of it? Three or four humble strands?”

People often crave attention. Rarely have I been so sorry to be the object of attention. Or maybe I’m just a city slicker who needs to get out more. Honestly, for me, black cows mean root-beer floats.

And, yes, I’m sure they were cows — pretty sure. Anyway, wherever you live, whatever your experience has been, thanks for joining me. And I’ll see you soon.


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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