Politics & Policy

Facing facts, &c.

One of the things Democrats frequently accuse Republicans of is having no respect for science or facts. Funny, but I make a similar accusation about them. Do they care about the results of their policies? No, they like the feel-good nature of those policies.

How about soaking the rich? Does that bring in more revenue to the government? Or does the lowering of marginal tax rates bring in more revenue? Do higher taxes aid the economy or retard it? Who cares? The point is to feel good, about sticking it to the rich, or requiring that they pay their “fair share.”

So it is with gun control. These gun-control laws: Do they reduce gun violence? Or do they have the opposite effect? Does the disarming of a population make them safer or less safe? Who cares? We feel better because we have “done something.”

One fine day, I’d like to hear someone say, “I used to support gun control, but now I see that such control does not bring my desired results. On the contrary. Therefore, I’ve changed my mind.”

That would be a beautiful thing.

I remember how I was sold on Reagan’s policies. I was deeply skeptical: of “peace through strength” and supply-side economics. (In my defense, I was a teenager, and finding out about the world.) But I saw the effects of his policies. And, bowing to the empirical imperative, said, “Okay.”

To heck with a theory — how does something work?

‐The above item leaves out something important: the Bill of Rights, and, in particular, the Second Amendment. But not every impromptu can contain everything (heaven knows).

‐I smiled at this lead from the Associated Press, and you might too:

Just as President Barack Obama is pushing new initiatives on gun control and immigration, the gloomy old problem of a sluggish economy is elbowing its way back into prominence.

(Full article here.) Oh, why must the economy spoil the One’s plans for fundamental transformation? (Unless, of course, a sluggish economy is part of the fundamental transformation.)

‐They used to accuse Reagan of not “growing in office” — the Left did, I mean. I was reminded of this when writing of Tip O’Neill and his myth. (For my Impromptus on that subject, go here.) Barack Obama could be accused of not growing in office: of refusing to compromise with the opposition, ignoring reality, and clinging to ideology. But he never will be.

You know what I mean?

‐From 1988 to 1992, Republicans said, “We’ve won five of the last six presidential elections. The Democratic party is on the ropes.” The Democrats didn’t like this, as you can imagine. They said, “It depends on how you count! Why don’t you start with Kennedy, huh?”

I was reminded of this when a conservative congressman remarked to me the other day, “We’ve lost the popular vote in five of the last six elections.”

No matter what, that was sobering to me. (Not that I’m in the need of further sobering about our country, trust me.)

‐There is a subject that’s pretty much undiscussable: Government is not just government but, to a degree, a jobs program. If you scale back government — what about the workers? Will they waltz into the private sector?

A reader sent me an article, whose headline was startling: “U.S. Post Office cuts threaten source of black jobs.” Black jobs? Anyway, a very tricky subject, and, as I’ve said, almost undiscussable. But very important.

‐An even more important subject: Iran and nukes. A theme of mine has been, The International Atomic Energy Agency is under new management, and much better management. This means that the agency is at last doing its job. Under Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA was something like an apologist for Iran — a harsh statement, an extreme-seeming statement, but justified, I think. (I studied the issue for my book on the Nobel Peace Prize — which the IAEA and ElBaradei won, jointly.) Under Yukiya Amano, the IAEA is the agency it was designed to be.

Here’s the opening paragraph of an AP report from yesterday:

The U.N. nuclear agency has told member nations that Iran is poised for a major technological upgrade of its uranium enrichment program . . . The move would vastly speed up Tehran’s ability to make material that can be used for both reactor fuel and nuclear warheads.

I have a question, with regard to Iran: Is the world slumbering or resigned?

‐Have a look at this snippet, from this article, and be sickened:

[John] Kerry praised Republicans and Democrats, highlighting President George H.W. Bush’s willingness to raise taxes in a budget deal and his recognition that it might make him a one-term president.

“He did what he thought was right. That’s courage,” Kerry said.

Why should you be sickened? Well, I was: because the Democrats beat the hell out of Bush 41 for the budget deal he made with them. Movement conservatives were disappointed in Bush, but the Democrats beat the hell out of him, making heaps and heaps of political hay. They did not say it was “courage” then.

‐I have some proof that Communists are nicer than they used to be, at least in Vietnam. Check this out:

Faced with a group of farmers refusing to give up their land for a housing project, the Communist Party officials negotiating the deal devised a solution: They went to a bank, opened accounts in the names of the holdouts and deposited what they decided was fair compensation. Then they took the land.

The farmers, angry at the sum . . .

(Full article here.) What the Vietnamese Communists did may not have met a Jeffersonian ideal, but think of what they used to do . . .

And what would Marx and Engels say? What would Lenin and Stalin say? Mao and Pol Pot?  Going to a bank and opening accounts in people’s names? Holy Moses!

‐Let’s have a little language: I was in a store the other day and heard a famous song — “Love Will Keep Us Together.” There’s a lyric: “Look in my heart and let love keep us together — whatever.”

In olden days, “whatever,” certainly in that context, meant “come what may” — “no matter what,” “whatever transpires.”

Now, of course, “whatever” has been transmogrified (and I’m one of the biggest users of it in the country, I’m afraid). (Even to the point of “whatevsky,” even to the point of “the Alexander Whatevsky Suite.”) (This last comes from the Alexander Nevsky Suite, by Prokofiev.)

‐The above item will serve as both my language item and my music item. How about my booty item? In this article, we read, “. . . Bloomberg gestured toward a woman in a very tight floor-length gown standing nearby and said, ‘Look at the ass on her.’” The Bloomberg in question is New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

My thought immediately flew to the great George Shultz, and this article. At the 1987 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner,

[Jay] Leno soon found himself chatting with Reagan himself. A bald, jovial man sidled up beside them. Huddling conspiratorially, Secretary of State George Shultz urged that they take a gander across the room.

“Did you see the ass on Fawn Hall when she walked in here?” Shultz asked (at least, in Leno’s telling; Shultz did not return a call), purring over the dazzling blonde secretary who had recently vaulted into the headlines as Oliver North’s document-shredding assistant in the Iran-Contra scandal.

‐I was very confused by a headline: “Ex-49er charged in former boyfriend’s beating.” I scratched my head: Would that be the NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers? Have they ever had a female player? Or maybe an ex-49er had beaten the former boyfriend of a current girlfriend?

The article began,

Former San Francisco 49er Kwame Harris has been charged with felony domestic violence and assault charges from an August beating involving a former boyfriend, a prosecutor and defense lawyer said.

Clearly I need to get with it. Give me a speck more time. As for the headline — “Ex-49er charged in former boyfriend’s beating” — that is one of the most modern I have ever read.

‐Max Kampelman was one of the people I most admired. He was a pacifist and a liberal Democrat who became something else: a Reagan diplomat, and a sterling one. For many years, he was with Freedom House, the chairman of the board. About a month ago, someone said I ought to go interview Kampelman — he was sharp as a tack and liked to talk. I eventually made a request with his secretary. Two days later, he died (age 92).

Earlier in my life, I had an exchange of letters with him. I probably have his letter somewhere — don’t know how to get my hands on it. I had just a brush with him, personally, but I’m grateful for that brush, and grateful for what he did in a mighty cause: broadly speaking, freedom.


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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