Politics & Policy

This is CNN, &c.

I try not to moan about media bias, I really do. But sometimes you can’t help moaning — at least I can’t. You remember the journalist who was caught on a “hot mic” during the 2012 Republican convention? Day One of the convention was canceled, owing to concerns about a hurricane. But then the convention proceeded. As Mitt Romney and his wife Ann were shown on screen, the journalist in question said, “They’re not concerned at all. They are happy to have a party with black people drowning.”

That man, who worked for Yahoo! News, was fired. (Although the word “yahoo” seems appropriate, particularly with the exclamation point.) But now I learn, via the Daily Caller, that he has become the “political director” of CNN.

Of course. Of course. Why not?

‐Speaking of someone perfect for a position: “Sam Kutesa became known to many Ugandans after he was ousted as a junior investment minister by lawmakers over charges he abused his office. Now foreign minister, he has been implicated in at least two more scandals since 1999, including allegations that he accepted bribes from foreign companies seeking oil contracts in Uganda.”

This man is “Africa’s unanimous choice to become president of the U.N. General Assembly.” (I’ve been quoting from an Associated Press report, here.) Why not? Sign ’im up!

‐This man, however, was obviously in the wrong job: “A Palestinian professor who took his students on a field trip to Auschwitz has resigned from his post following [a] months-long campaign of death threats, campus riots and intimidation against him.”

I am quoting from this article, published in the Daily Telegraph. It continues, “Prof Mohammed Dajani, head of the American Studies Department and director of the library at Al Quds University, was denounced as a ‘traitor’ and ‘collaborator’ by some of his colleagues, students and members of the public, after he organised the trip to the site of the Nazi concentration camp in Poland.”

Do read the whole report, when you have a second. A brave, distinctive, and admirable man, Professor Dajani.

‐Last week, I was moaning about President Obama, particularly as concerned the Bergdahl affair. I objected to the “simplism” of his statements. “Their refusal to acknowledge complexity.” In Obama’s telling, Sergeant Bergdahl was somebody’s child, we never leave anyone behind, and that was that.

I wrote, “If only he could acknowledge trade-offs, in a messy, wicked world: a world of difficult and excruciating choices. If only he could say, ‘Sometimes you have to hold your nose,’ or, ‘Yes, there were competing demands and principles here,’ or, ‘I understand the concern over the release of those terrorists’ — but he cannot, apparently. Worse, he portrays any critic as either a moron or a cretin.”

So, I was more than usually interested to see this headline on Sunday, over an AP report: “US values collided in Bergdahl’s predicament.” Yes, they did. But would Obama and his aides ever say as much? Or even see as much?

‐Here’s another headline for you: “US, Iran hold direct nuclear talks in Geneva.” (Article here.) Yeah, that’ll do the trick. (For Iran, that is.)

‐In an article about the recent doings of Chris Christie, the governor was quoted as saying, “I just act like myself, and people take it or leave it. And I’m completely content with that.” I like that about Christie, whatever my reservations about him. I have the sense that others do too. Anyway, the 2016 race should be interesting. Lots of interesting, diverse personalities, and different approaches, too.

GOP-bashing is not just the Left’s favorite sport, but the Right’s favorite sport. I like the Republican party, and its leading figures. Donald Rumsfeld likes to say, “America is not what’s wrong with the world.” Adapting his line, I say, “The Republican party is not what’s wrong with America.”

#page#‐All of my life, I have heard this, and maybe you have, too: “The U.S. embargo on Cuba is wrong and is hurting the Cuban people. The dissidents in Cuba don’t want the embargo. The only people who want the embargo are the government, which uses the issue to maintain its power and whip up anti-American feeling.”

Etc., etc. Funnily enough, I have interviewed a great many Cuban dissidents, including former political prisoners. (Actually, one of the prisoners I interviewed was on the lam. He reached me by phone, via a democracy activist in the U.S.) I’m not sure that many other journalists have interviewed as many dissidents. I have sought them out regularly, over the years.

And I believe I have asked each and every one of them, “What do you think of the embargo?” And I believe that each has said he supports it — for reasons I, and they, have explained over and over.

This leads me to this item. “Over 550 Cuban Democracy Activists Reject Efforts to Ease Sanctions.” The list includes some of the people I admire most in all the world — starting with the first name, Antúnez, the moniker of the leader who has been in and out of prison more times than I can count, and who has had the living hell beaten out of him (his wife has, too), and who never, ever breaks (neither does she).

There ought to be a statue of Antúnez somewhere (of Iris, too). If I had the nerve and the ability, I’d do it myself.

‐A dissident I interviewed last year is Berta Soler, the leader of the Ladies in White. These are the women — wives, daughters, and mothers of political prisoners — who walk and pray silently, and are attacked for their troubles. Physically, I mean.

To see a picture of some of them on Sunday, as they left a church service, go here. They were subsequently arrested, all of them.

‐I’m not changing the subject, it will only seem like it. In the current issue of National Review, I have a piece about labor unions — a personal essay, about my perceptions of unions over the years. Here is a slice:

On the sidewalks of New York, there is often a huge inflatable rat parked in front of a building, blocking your way. A union has put it there, to shame the people within. They are non-union. It is not a cute, cuddly rat, but a giant nasty one. Non-union workers are supposed to be “rats,” you see. Didn’t Nazis equate their opponents with vile animals?

Earlier in the piece, I say something about the Wisconsin drama of 2011. Union demonstrators repeatedly equated Governor Scott Walker and his allies with Nazis.

Later, I go all frank and scalding: “I hate this rat. I hate the word ‘scab.’ I hate the idea that you can’t cross a picket line — some holy cordon. I hate the whole bullying, ugly, greedy, undemocratic nature of unions.”

Anyway, why do I bring all this up, here and now? Ever since the Communists took over Cuba, they have had a word for Cuban democrats or dissenters: gusanos, meaning “worms.” I have heard their supporters in America use it too. Lots.

‐Lemme lighten up. Want some baseball? I was charmed by something that the Seattle manager, Lloyd McClendon, said. His team beat my team, the Detroit Tigers. And of a very tense ninth inning, he said, “I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t watching.” (For the relevant report, go here.)

‐Want some music? At The New Criterion, I have a review of a New York Philharmonic concert, here. On the program were three new works. On the podium was Alan Gilbert, and the soloist was Midori, the (one-named) violinist.

‐End with some language? I recently learned a word I like, and find very useful — maybe I’m the last to know. But it’s “talmbout.” As in, “That’s what I’m talmbout!” (“talking about”).

Thx, guys, and catch you soon.

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