Politics & Policy

A governor’s red meat, &c.

Did you catch Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, the other day? He served up some red meat for right-wingers like me. Very tasty. After the A&E channel caved on the Duck Dynasty business, he said, “The Left is going to have to get accustomed to the fact that it does not have a monopoly on free speech and is not the only group who is permitted to voice its opinion in the public square. The Left may control Hollywood, but they don’t control the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans.”

Nice goin’, Bobby J. (I culled the quotation here.)

‐The headline read, “Nepal Maoists agree to join newly elected assembly.” I’m thinking, “Maoists don’t really do elected assemblies.” The article began, “The party of Nepal’s former communist rebels agreed Tuesday to join the Constituent Assembly elected last month . . .” The thing about former Communists, or post-Communists: They often don’t turn out to be so former or post-.

Anti-democrats use democracy to subvert democracy. A lesson as old as time — or at least as old as democracy — and one to be heeded.

#ad#‐The familiar trajectory is left to right: Lefties become righties, liberals become conservatives. We can all cite numerous examples. The trajectory of right to left is fairly rare, I think, and interesting. A sad example of this phenomenon (from my point of view) is Diane Ravitch, the education expert. She used to be a proponent of what I think of as sensible and moral education reform. But she has become a different person, evidently. She is now a staunch advocate of what Bill Bennett dubbed the Blob: the education establishment, the people who have weighed down education for generations.

Sol Stern has a study of Ravitch in City Journalhere. The title of his piece is “The Closing of Diane Ravitch’s Mind: A once-great education scholar rejects everything she previously believed.”

Let me pick a tiny bone with her (amid very big bones): Stern quotes her as saying — as writing, actually — “In education, unions are being crushed [if only!], and there is no one to advocate for them when the Governor and Legislature cut the budget for education.”

I realize the new expression “to advocate for” is here to stay. But it’s still ugly and wrong, and Ravitch can drop the Right and join the Left without dropping English.

‐So, Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat, is to be our next ambassador to China. There is a minor tradition, I think, of moderate Democrats’ becoming ambassador to China: I think of Jim Sasser (the Tennessean) and Gary Locke (the Washington Stater) — and now Baucus.

One could do worse, I suppose. What I most want in an ambassador to China is this: someone who will remember, as he goes about his work, that the PRC, for all its progress, is a one-party dictatorship with a gulag.

#page#‐It is the season, evidently, to remember our heroes from the Hanoi Hilton. Last month, I had a note on Robinson Risner (in this column). We now have an obit in the New York Times, among other obits, of Edwin A. Schuman III, or Ned Schuman. You will forgive a long quote:

As Christmas 1970 approached, 43 American prisoners of war in a large holding cell at the North Vietnamese camp known as the Hanoi Hilton sought to hold a brief church service. Their guards stopped them, and so the seeds of rebellion were planted.

A few days later, Lt. Cmdr. Edwin A. Shuman III, a downed Navy pilot, orchestrated the resistance, knowing he would be the first to face the consequences: a beating in a torture cell.

“Ned stepped forward and said, ‘Are we really committed to having church Sunday? I want to know person by person,’ ” a fellow prisoner, Leo K. Thorsness, recounted in a memoir. “He went around the cell pointing to each of us individually,” Mr. Thorsness continued. “When the 42nd man said yes, it was unanimous. At that instant, Ned knew he would end up in the torture cells.”

The following Sunday, Commander Shuman, who died on Dec. 3 at 82, stepped forward to lead a prayer session and was quickly hustled away by guards. The next four ranking officers did the same, and they, too, were taken away to be beaten. Meanwhile, as Mr. Thorsness told it, “the guards were now hitting P.O.W.s with gun butts and the cell was in chaos.”

And then, he remembered, the sixth-ranking senior officer began, “Gentlemen, the Lord’s Prayer.”

“And this time,” he added, “we finished it.”

The guards had yielded.

#ad#‐I don’t want to make too much of this — all God’s chillen have anecdotes. And I care how people vote, not what they tell pollsters and so on. But I got a Christmas card that was kind of interesting. It’s from a couple who were staunchly supportive of Obama in 2012. They wore buttons, etc. And their Christmas card reads as follows:

In this tumultuous political and economic time, we applaud the Affordable Card Act, which makes this communication possible.

We like the card we have, but rather than keep it, we’re sending it to you. Ensuring your happy good health!

Here’s hoping you will vote for us in 2014!

This is gentle mockery, right? Not entirely sure. In any case, interesting, as I said.

‐It is good to be king — but it’s sad to be king, too, when your country disintegrates before your eyes. When it goes down the tubes on your watch, so to speak. And you are king in a democracy — a symbol — so there’s nothing you can do about it, except maybe exhort or sigh.

In his Christmas message, Spain’s Juan Carlos said, “We cannot accept as normal the anguish of the millions of Spaniards who do not have work.”

Yes. (For an Associated Press report, go here.)

‐I loved something Earl Weaver said — I saw it in an obit of Paul Blair, the center fielder. (He played for the Orioles and the Yankees, primarily.) As the obit said, “Blair was known for his speed and grace, and for his ability to read a hitter’s swing and make a quick break on a fly ball.”

Weaver, the Orioles’ manager, commented that he never saw Blair make a great catch. Because he didn’t have to make great catches. He was always standing under the ball when it came down.

‐Want some music? Well, I have a blogpost at The New Criterion. Kind of interesting, I think — has to do with family members in the audience, when their loved ones are onstage.

‐Back to sports, for our ending? Okay. I saw that parents in Alabama named their child “Krimson Tyde.” A pretty name, actually. What other names are possible, along these lines?

Well, I thought of North Dakota, and the now-banished name Fighting Sioux. Maybe rebellious or independent-minded parents could name their daughter Fighting Sue.

Happy new year, dear ones, and talk to you soon.

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