Politics & Policy

That old devil consequence, &c.

John Kerry testifies before Congress, April 18, 2013. (C-SPAN)

Couple of days ago, some colleagues and I were sitting around talking about John Kerry. (Yeah, we have a lot of fun.) He has put on remarkable performances of late.

First, he was testifying before Congress, when Dana Rohrabacher asked him about Benghazi. You remember Benghazi: It was only last September 11. Four of our people were killed there. How that happened is still somewhat of a mystery. Kerry gave an adequate answer, but he finished this way: “We got a lot more important things to move on to and get done.”

Joe Sensitivity, he is. You remember Abu Ghraib, don’t you? No Americans died there, as I recall. And yet Democrats weren’t too eager to move on from it. Neither were “their allies in the media,” to use the longstanding expression.

Next, Kerry drew a casual comparison between the dead on the Mavi Marmara and the dead in Boston (thanks to those charming brothers). The Mavi Marmara was the Turkish ship carrying the cutthroats who were bent on breaking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza.

Third, Kerry said the following, when asked about jihadists: “I think the world has had enough of people who have no belief system, no policy for jobs, no policy for education . . . And we need to, all of us, do a better job of communicating to people what the options of life are.”

Uh-huh. Most jihadists of my acquaintance have a belief system. And they have chosen an option in life: to kill those who do not share their belief system.

#ad#I’m finally getting to my point: You often hear that the Democratic and Republican parties are Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Alternatively, some wag will say, “Tweedledum and Tweedledummer,” in a tone that suggests nobody has ever said that before. As far as I’m concerned, the parties are all too far apart.

Just consider the matter of the State Department job. Under a President Romney, John Bolton or someone like him would be secretary of state. Instead, that position is filled by John Kerry. That is a huge, yawning difference, isn’t it?

Elections have consequences, we are told, and boy is that right. A huge consequence of Election 2012 is Secretary of State John Kerry. That is something that both Left and Right can certainly agree on.

‐It occurs to me: I know the names of the Boston-bombing brothers; I don’t know the names of their victims. That is shameful.

‐I delighted in a piece by Bruce Anderson, the veteran British journalist. He was talking about Michael Gove, among others. Gove is the heroic education secretary in the Cameron government. “Lefties hate him,” wrote Anderson, “because he not only threatens their control of education: he does so in the name of social mobility and social generosity.” Exactly. Anderson continued, “They see a good school and think: ‘This is unfair.’ He sees a bad school and does not merely think it unfair. He acts to prevent it blighting its pupils’ life chances.”

Yes, yes, yes. Anderson reminds me of one reason I became a conservative in the first place. They see a good school and think, “This is unfair.” We see a bad school and think, “This is unfair.” They see prosperity and think, “This is unfair.” We see poverty or hopelessness or dependency and think, “This is unfair.”


‐As long as I’m waxing autobiographical, let me mention something that President Obama said to Planned Parenthood. He said, “There is nothing conservative about the government injecting itself between a woman and her doctor.”

This is a question I had to wrestle with in my teens, and a question we all have to wrestle with, sooner or later: Does an unborn child constitute a life, a human being, an entity worth considering, apart from the mother? If so, an abortion is not simply a matter for “a woman and her doctor.” Someone else — a tiny and growing someone else — is involved.

Obviously, Barack Obama came to a conclusion different from the one I came to.

There was a proud bumper sticker all over Ann Arbor (my hometown): “If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one.” I thought, “Hmmm: If you don’t like slavery, don’t own one?”

Anyway . . .

‐A reader writes, “Jay, it used to be ‘pro-abortion.’ Then it was ‘pro-choice.’ Now I hear people talk about ‘women’s health.’ That’s an amazing evolution, huh?” Yeah. Who knows what the next trimester will bring?

‐I read an excellent article by Mary Anastasia O’Grady earlier this week — a typically excellent article. It began,

In the debate about whether the U.S. should end what is left of the embargo it has imposed against Cuba for the last half century, the side that wants to lift it often invokes the names of dissidents on the island who agree. But there are also Cuban dissidents who support the embargo because they fear that ending it would strengthen the dictatorship.

Mary went on to discuss the great Berta Soler, a member of the Ladies in White.

#page#I had a memory: A long time ago now — 2001 — I interviewed a Cuban dissident named René Montes de Oca. He was on the lam, actually; he had escaped from prison. We spoke on the phone. He was desperate to get his messages out. In short order, he was recaptured and reimprisoned.

Two years after that, he was released, and I talked to him again. I reported on this conversation here. “While I had him on the line,” I wrote,

I thought I’d ask René what he thought of the Bush administration, and of U.S. policy in general. He is not only in favor of the U.S. embargo, but also believes that there should be a “total [worldwide] blockade.” Tourism, he says, only lines the pockets and serves the interests of the regime, keeping them in power long past their time. I asked whether dissidents on the island were unanimous in the pro-blockade view. He answered, “That’s certainly the position of my party. I respect whatever other opinion anyone else may have.” I reminded him that people often claim that the longstanding U.S. embargo hasn’t “worked.” He replied, “It has worked in the sense that the government of the United States has not cooperated with the Castro regime in oppressing the Cuban people.”

Everyone else has cooperated — Euros, Canadians, Latin Americans. Everyone.

‐I smiled on reading the opening of this report from the Associated Press. Its headline: “In Ala., GOP dictates new landscape for education.” Its opening: “Self-declared education reformers have had considerable success across the country over the past few decades, from charter school expansion and private school tuition vouchers to new limits on teachers’ job protections.”

I thought, “Sounds to me like they’re more than ‘self-declared,’ as reformers!”

#ad#‐Got a note from my friend and colleague John Hillen, the defense intellectual (and other things). He said, “The New York Times published an essay by Salman Rushdie on moral courage. And how did they choose to illustrate it? With a picture of someone at the Solzhenitsyn level? No, with a picture of Occupy protesters.”

Yup. Sadly, Rushdie hails these bullies and buffoons in his essay. While he’s at it, he hails Noam Chomsky and Edward Said. He calls them “out-of-step intellectuals” — which I found funny: At least among those who educated me, they were very much in step.

You know who was out of step? Sidney Hook, the socialist anti-Communist. Indeed, his memoirs are entitled Out of Step.

Read it and weep: “‘Penmanship’ is now ‘handwriting’ as Washington state removes gender bias in statutes.” Seriously — this is not a joke. Is America too moronic to survive? (Don’t answer that, just now.)

Read it and weep: “Is ‘master bedroom’ sexist or racist? Is ‘owner’s suite’ more modern?”

I ask again: Is America too . . .

‐In Monday’s Impromptus, I wrote about Aníbal Sánchez, the Tiger pitcher. I further did a blogpost, here.

“Aníbal” is the Spanish Hannibal. And his younger brother Hasdrubal is rendered “Asdrúbal” — which, as a reader reminds us, is the name of the Cleveland Indian shortstop Asdrúbal Cabrera (no relation to the Tigers’ great Miguel).

‐That blogpost was headed “A Boy Named Jo.” The Jo in question was Jo Johnson, Boris’s brother, who has just been named to a key position by Prime Minister Cameron. I said, “Here in America, ‘Jo’ is only feminine, as far as I know. Indeed, Jo is one of Louisa May Alcott’s ‘little women.’ Maybe in Britain, they do things differently.”

Mark Steyn wrote a typically erudite, stylish reply.

All this made me think, “What was ‘A Boy Named Sue’ about again?” I had forgotten the song. So I went to Wikipedia. And I would like to paste a little excerpt:

With public decorum being more conservative in America when the song was released in the 1960s, the term “son of a bitch” in the line “I’m the son of a bitch that named you Sue!” was censored in the radio version and the final line was edited to remove the word “damn”.

Everyone laughs at that era, and says what a dark age it was. I’m glad that we don’t routinely censor those words anymore. I think it’s probably better that we don’t. But if I had to choose between the old way and the modern pornographic culture, I’d choose the old way in a heartbeat. If I can’t have something judiciously in between — give me the old way, please.

You know what I mean? And do you agree? Anyway, thanks for joining me, and catch 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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