National Security & Defense

Cold enough for ya? &c.

Where I live, we’ve had some severely cold weather recently. How about you? I remember some years when we had some unseasonably warm weather. And, boy, did the global-warming people gloat.

“See how you’ve changed the weather?” they said. “You and your nasty capitalist economy?” They went on to tell us that, where once there was sledding, now the poor children were unacquainted with snow. RFK Jr. was particularly obnoxious on this front.

Anyway, we now have record-breaking cold, some of us, and the global-warming crowd says, “No fair talkin’ about the weather! Global warming — climate change — has nothing to do with that!”

Nice. I hope they’ll remember that, next time it’s unusually warm.

‐Nicolás Maduro, the strongman in Venezuela, continues to huddle with the Castros, learning as much from them as he can. They are his mentors, perhaps even his father figures. They played the same role for his predecessor, Hugo Chávez.

One by one, Maduro imprisons all his opposition. He has just arrested an important person: the mayor of the capital city, Caracas, Antonio Ledezma. The agents struck both him and his wife, when they arrested him. They were “savage,” said his wife. For an article, go here.

If they were savage when they arrested Ledezma — how are they treating him now, when he is a prisoner?

Early in his presidency, Barack Obama gave a soul-brother handshake to Chávez, and called him “mi amigo,” his friend. Make no mistake: The chavistas in Venezuela, or wherever else they live, are no friends of democrats.

The United States should stand with Venezuela’s political prisoners.

‐No one has a good word to say about Britain’s bombing of Dresden, this side of David Pryce-Jones. And another David, the country’s prime minister, Cameron. The archbishop of Canterbury has just apologized to Germany for the bombing. The prime minister, by contrast, said the bombers “are heroes of our country.”

For a news story, go here.

‐I had a thought about Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech before Congress: After all this angst, it had better be good. Really good. I think it will be.

‐Netanyahu views himself as a man with not much to lose, I think. I have no doubt that there is an electoral calculation in this speech. (Israelis will go to the polls two weeks after Netanyahu appears before Congress.) Politicians tend to calculate, electorally. But I also think that Israel has little time for protocol and politeness at this point.

“Obama is miffed at me,” Bibi may think. “So? Israel has bigger fish to fry at the moment. We are facing a death threat from a nuclear Iran.”

He may also think, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” He does not want it said that, when the U.S. was on the verge of a catastrophic deal with Iran, he did not do all he could.

Recently, Netanyahu pointed out that, if Zionism means anything, it means “not being spectators to the decisions that determine our fate.”

Several years ago, in a National Review forum, Paul Johnson, the great British historian, called Netanyahu “a man of destiny.” Could be.

‐As I said in a scribble last week, Obama and his people treat the “supreme leader” of totalitarian Iran, Ali Khamenei, more respectfully than they treat the prime minister of democratic Israel. In words and actions, the Obamites make clear their complete contempt for Netanyahu.

Years ago, the Left had a slogan: “The whole world is watching.” Don’t Obama and his people know that the whole world is watching — including Iran, and Hamas, and Hezbollah, and all the other enemies of Israel? Do they really want to communicate to these people that the U.S. administration hates Netanyahu as much as they do?

The Obamites are committing malpractice in foreign policy. And they think they are so smart, unlike George W. Bush, Texas, and the Republican party. How dumb.

‐Above, I wrote, “Israel has little time for protocol and politeness at this point.” For decades, it was said that Israelis were the rudest people on earth. One reply was, “Sure, and understandably: Who has the time or stomach for politeness after the Holocaust?”

‐Another way of describing Netanyahu’s mindset — or possible mindset — is “now or never.” The prime minister may think, “It’s now or never,” which has a touch of “Never again” built into it.

Do you know what I mean? I’m sure you do, as does Israel.

‐In Paris, a graffiti artist named Combo created a mural that called for religious harmony. To read a news story, go here.

He created it in the wake of the Islamist murders of cartoonists, Jews, and others. Part of his mural was the “coexist” symbol: the word “coexist” made out of the Muslim crescent, the star of David, the cross, and so on. I’m sure you’ve seen this, probably on the bumpers of cars.

A Muslim gang told the graffiti artist to efface the mural. He refused. So they effaced him. Or rather, not this time: They merely beat him to a pulp. Next time, he might not be so lucky.

Pardon a really obvious statement: People who are unwilling to coexist are unimpressed by the “coexist” symbol — except to be incensed by it.

‐I hail, and recommend, an article by Wendy Kaminer in the Washington Post: “The progressive ideas behind the lack of free speech on campus.” She says what needs to be said, very well.

My colleagues and I have written such articles here at National Review a thousand times. If a right-winger like me says it in NR, who cares? If a Kaminer says it in the Washington Post — maybe it will do some good.

This may be slightly sad or unfair, but it’s true.

Anyway . . .

‐Here is a headline: “French Catholics sue adultery website for encouraging affairs.” (Article here.) I don’t know if they have a legal leg to stand on — but good for them.

‐Speaking of Catholics: I want to tell you something, from last week. I understand that the United States, like the rest of the Western world, has undergone secularization. I also understand that I live in a pronouncedly secular city (New York).

But I also understand that you never know who’s religious — except maybe one day of the year. And then you may well discover who’s Catholic, at least.

That day is Ash Wednesday, as you’ve probably guessed. Religious people — or some of them — are literally marked out. And let me tell you: I happened to spend a lot of time on the streets of the city that day (several hours). And I was amazed at how many people bore that mark on their forehead.

Half of people? No, no. A quarter? No, still too high. But a lot, believe me. A lot.

You never really know, do you? I don’t mean to extrapolate too much from one afternoon in one city, but I wonder if secularism is as entrenched as we tend to believe.

‐Stay with religion, for an ending item. About ten years ago, I was talking with a famous singer, and an unusual subject came up: whether it’s possible to sing explicitly religious songs, for example in a recital — especially when those songs are in your own language (or that of the audience).

Black American singers are allowed to sing spirituals. Even encouraged to! There is an element of white-liberal condescension in this, I think: “Oh, isn’t it cute! Listen to those folks, singin’ about their Jesus! Awwww . . .”

Well, last week, an American mezzo named Jamie Barton gave a recital in New York’s Zankel Hall. She sang a varied program, after which she sang two encores.

The first, she announced as her favorite hymn: “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.” The second was “Ride On, King Jesus” (which was on just about every Leontyne Price program, for years).

I was seated, but you could have knocked me down with a feather. And, after Barton sang, I stood (for her, and the music).

You may think this strange, or hard to understand, but hear me out: I believe it took some nerve for a white chick from Georgia to sing those songs in front of a New York audience. I really do. The scope of my experience tells me this is so.

A self-confident woman, Jamie Barton is, in addition to an excellent singer. I’ll review her later.

Later!

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