Politics & Policy

When thuggery comes home, &c.

Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach

Think back to the political drama in Wisconsin two years ago. The ugliest aspect of that drama, in my opinion, was the gathering of union members at the homes of legislators they hated. They tramped on lawns, chanted their slogans, screamed their abuse — and frightened and intimidated families inside. Including the pets, probably.

I remember thinking, “If I were on these people’s side — which I’m not — I would be especially appalled by their tactics. They discredit the cause in general. Will any decent liberal say so?” No. Not that I heard.

Anyway, I thought of all this the other day when reading about Kansas. What’s the matter with Kansas? Well, a pro-amnesty crowd — I’m tempted to say “mob” — gathered at the home of a public official, Kris Kobach. He’s the secretary of state in Kansas. They tramped all over his lawn, mounted his porch, shouted their speeches through bullhorns: “Sí, se puede,” and all that racket.

Later, Kobach likened their tactics to the Klan’s — citing “Klan laws,” which were designed, he said, to keep people from going to the homes of officeholders and threatening them. The amnesty crowd didn’t appreciate being compared to the Klan. They howled. And the shoe does not fit entirely. But it does in part, and they should wear it.

Like most Americans, I’m sympathetic to immigrants, and admiring of them. (That said, I’m not in favor of the “Gang of Eight” bill.) But if they and others behave this way, I become like the drunkest lout in the bowling alley: “Get out, and stay out” — at least until such time as you learn what democratic politics is about.

Also: Stay the hell off my lawn — and others’.

#ad#‐In our latest podcast, Mona Charen and I talked about why we became conservatives in the first place. I didn’t mention this, but one of my reasons was this: The Left was a bully. Almost more than anything else, I hate bullying. I was taught that the Right was a bully: the Brownshirts and all that. In my time and place, however, the Left was far more likely to be the bully.

And I recoiled against it (among other things).

‐The George Zimmerman trial is unfolding in Sanford, Fla. I wonder whether justice is possible in this case — because the case is “national,” rather than individual, as trials ought to be, really. I’d better explain what I mean.

In Sanford, a white man killed a black man — or at least a non-black man did. The New York Times called him a “white Hispanic.” In fact, I think the paper might have coined the term for the purpose of describing George Zimmerman. It doesn’t call Sonia Sotomayor, for example, a “white Hispanic.”

Do they have some kind of a color chart at the Times where they measure these things?

If a black man kills a black man — no furor. If a black man kills a white man — no furor. If a white man kills a black man — furor. Al Sharpton, “No justice, no peace,” etc.

Of the victim in this case, President Obama said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Fine. And what is the relevance of that remark? What if the victim had been a Chinese girl? What would our president have said then? Anything?

I have no idea what the outcome of the trial should be. I am not a student of the case. But I’m afraid that the race gods must be appeased. That our national psyche demands a conviction — or else . . .

And that’s not justice, is it? Justice is more like, “What do the facts tell us, and to what verdict do those facts lead?”

That may be just too boring for America.

‐A word about Alec Baldwin — who let loose on a journalist the other day. (Perfectly understandable.) He wrote — he tweeted — “I’m gonna find you, George Stark, you toxic little queen, and I’m gonna f***…you…up.” (I’m adding asterisks here.) He continued, “If put my foot up your f***ing ass, George Stark” — this is gibberish, but I’m quoting accurately — “but I’m sure you’d dig it too much.”

Anderson Cooper, the CNN star, said — tweeted — “Why does #AlecBaldwin get a pass when he uses gay slurs? If a conservative talked of beating up a ‘queen’ they would be vilified.” (A conservative, or any other individual, in our modern English, is a “they.”)

Why does Baldwin get a pass? Was Cooper’s question rhetorical or does he really not know? He no doubt knows, and his tweet suggests as much: Baldwin gets a pass because he’s on the left. And to be on the left is to be forgiven all, or almost all.

Baldwin is a kind of spokesman or personality for the New York Philharmonic, the host of the orchestra’s radio series, I believe. Classical music is not a gay-hostile field, to say the least. I wonder which would be more disadvantageous to a person: to be a political conservative who would never engage in anti-gay rhetoric, or to be a political liberal who would.

Actually, I don’t have to wonder, not for a second.

‐Did you hear that Soledad O’Brien, late of CNN, has been hired by al-Jazeera? Is that not perfect, absolutely perfect?

Now that she’s paid by Gulf Arabs, will she discover a new appreciation of oil?

#page#‐Speaking of oil, and an appreciation of it: I’d like to recommend an article, here. It’s about fracking, and you’ve read a thousand articles about fracking. But this one is brilliant. It’s headed “Greens don’t like fracking because they don’t like prosperity,” and it’s by Daniel Hannan, the British writer and politician.

I would like to quote the whole thing, but I’ll confine myself to this bit: “[F]racking will cause some disruption in the early stages, as all construction projects do. There will be lorries and workmen and general bustle.” Lorries is British for trucks, as you know.

And Hannan is exactly right: I found this “bustle” in North Dakota, which has experienced a fracking boom for several years. North Dakota has problems, and they are good problems to have — problems of abundance, rather than want. For my report on the state, published last year, go here.

I can’t help quoting one more passage from Hannan:

This morning’s headlines warn us of electricity rationing and coming blackouts. Fracking won’t just solve that problem; it will drag us back to growth, much as it has the United States. The find has come, fortuitously, at the very moment that North Sea oil and, especially, gas reserves deplete. We already have the gas infrastructure in place. Now it turns out that we are sitting on the largest shale hoard in Europe. It seems almost providential.

That is exactly the word a reader of Impromptus used about fracking in America: Providential. (I think he spelled it with a capital P, as I do.) Do we deserve this bounty and bonanza? Sure, I guess. Do President Obama and other sworn opponents of oil — of oil in general and fracking in particular?


‐Care for a little language? Language and sports at the same time? One of the joys of my life is reading what Jim Leyland, the Tigers’ manager, has to say after a game. (It has not been a joy to read about the Tigers lately: They have hit the skids.) Leyland is wise, candid, and eloquent. His eloquence is stocked with idioms.

Let me give you a sample — and I’ll quote from a news story, so you get the context:

Rick Porcello (4-4) allowed six runs on nine hits, giving up a pair of homers for the third time this year.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland lamented that Porcello seemed to get rattled by Ryan Flaherty’s infield hit, which potentially could’ve been an inning-ending groundout in the fourth, that led to Taylor Teagarden’s first homer of the season two pitches later.

“’Rick lost his composure a little bit after Flaherty hit that little nubber to third,” Leyland said. “Groundball pitchers are going to give up hits like that, and they have to bounce back from them.”

I loved that “little nubber to third.” And the concept of a “groundball pitcher.”

#ad#This is from a different story: “Doug wasn’t at his sharpest, but he didn’t get any luck, either.” Leyland was talking about another Tiger pitcher, Doug Fister. “I’m not making any excuses for him, but when they hit the ball hard — and they did hit some hard — they got a hit, and when they didn’t hit the ball hard, they still got a hit.”

‐Recently, I did some traveling with a friend, who was amused by the TSA process at the airport. He smiled as he completed this process. He said he was thinking of a Sunday School teacher of his, more than 60 years before. Mrs. Smith, let’s call her, was a proper and elegant lady. She was always perfectly turned out, whatever the occasion: gloves, hat, the whole bitsy. She was a model of dignity and decorum.

My friend said, “I just can’t imagine Mrs. Smith going through this process. I mean, it would be an abomination to her. She just couldn’t do it.”

But then we said, No: Today, she would wear exactly the right things to the airport, and handle the process with aplomb. I’m sure that’s true.

‐A little more language, kind of a bonus item? Okay. Over the weekend, I attended a dance recital, whose star — undisputed — was my niece. One of the songs the students danced to was “I Believe,” whose lyrics include, “I believe in the power of you and I.” This phrase is repeated over and over.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the dedication of the George W. Bush library in Dallas. (For the article, go here.) When it was his turn to speak — the incumbent and the four former presidents all spoke — Bush 41 said, “This is very special for Barbara and me.”

I wrote, “Is Bush the last person in America to use ‘I’ and ‘me’ correctly?” Bush was born in 1924. He went to Andover and Yale, and those teachers didn’t screw around. Neither did his mother.

‐Thanks for joining me today, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s end with a letter. A reader writes,

One of the funniest lines I’ve heard about the Paula Deen story came from a guy on the radio in Indianapolis. He said he had to do some research to find out who Paula Deen was, because he doesn’t watch cooking shows for the same reason he doesn’t watch porn: Every time he tried it at home, it didn’t work out very well.

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