Impromptus

An Oscar fantasy, &c.

Kevin Hart at the Golden Globe Awards in 2015 (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)
On our culture, the ‘real America,’ a National Review cruise, and more

Kevin Hart was announced as host of the Oscars. He seemed perfect. Then they found some old, anti-gay tweets. (Twitter is the new “paper trail,” isn’t it?) This article, from the Associated Press, is headed “With Kevin Hart’s downfall, hosting the Oscars got harder.” It tells you what you need to know.

I had this thought: What if an Oscar host came out and told a slew of politically incorrect jokes? Ethnic jokes, sexual jokes, the whole nine yards, as though Rodney or Rickles had come back? Wouldn’t that be interesting? It just might puncture the whole balloon, in a healthful way.

(Don’t wait up nights.)

• I found the G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires depressing, in large part for this reason: The meeting was a mixture of democracies and dictatorships, which gives a confusing picture to the world.

Possibly my favorite G-20 moment came in 2014, in Brisbane. Putin approached the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, with his hand extended. Harper said, “I guess I’ll shake your hand, Vladimir, but I have only one thing to say to you: Get out of Ukraine.” Putin denied being in Ukraine at all.

I discussed this with Harper in a recent podcast, here.

• Did you see Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, greeting each other in Buenos Aires? They acted like long-lost brothers, ecstatic on being reunited. Peas in a pod. Deal with them if you have to — and you do — but be under no illusion about what they are.

• I recommend an article by Steve Chapman, published in Reason: “Why Are We Still in Afghanistan? Our options have fallen into two categories: bad and worse.” All sides of the question must deal with his arguments. The article is here.

Is the country having a debate at all, about what we are accomplishing in Afghanistan? We ought to. I suppose I’m in favor of remaining and fighting and stabilizing — but the likes of Steve Chapman must be listened to, and answered.

Well done, Steve.

• Recently, I got a letter from one of our military officers, serving abroad. He is a longtime correspondent. He said many interesting and arresting things, including this: “I’ve buried more friends than my parents have.”

• You know about the situation of the Uyghurs in China. Something like a million of them have been rounded up into reeducation camps. The others are oppressed in various ways. I wrote about this situation last May, here.

One of the things that most pain the Uyghurs is that government agents — Han Chinese — have moved into their homes, to stamp out the characteristics that make the Uyghurs Uyghurs. Often, these homes are missing a husband or father, who is away in a camp. I spoke to a Uyghur about this when I was preparing my piece. Nothing disturbed him more.

Some days ago, the Associated Press published a report, unbearable to read. Maybe you can. It is headed “China’s Uighurs told to share beds, meals with party members.” It’s all true.

• Let me recommend an editorial in The Weekly Standard, about Trump, Mueller, and Russia: here. In my view, it says what needs to be said. Well done, and thank you.

• Margaret Thatcher told Charles Moore, her official biographer, that she had wanted to title her memoirs “Undefeated.” She never was, you know, in any election — she was never defeated. (Her fellow Conservatives brought her down internally.)

When I was reading about Trump and his headaches — staffing, Mueller, a Democratic House — I thought, “Maybe he would like to serve just one term, and be Undefeated, forever?”

• “I am a Tariff Man,” Trump wrote. “When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power.” What an extraordinary understanding of economics.

• Kevin Williamson has written a stellar piece on conservatives and cities. I hailed it on Twitter. A lady wrote,

Born and bred in NYC and I’ve always hated hearing I didn’t live in the “real America”. It always felt very real to me, and I’m very much an American. No one joins a club that just dismisses them.

Yes.

I used to tease a friend of mine, long ago. To him, “real America” was the NRA, NASCAR, and country music. I told him, “You take the parts you like and call them ‘real.’ The truth is, Hollywood, Harvard, and the New York Times are as American as apple pie, for better or worse. You just don’t like them.” And on it went.

It was Bill Buckley, as much as anyone, who talked me out of this “real America” business. He knew it was all real, “from sea to shining sea,” as he would say. Provo, Utah, yes — but also Haight-Ashbury. The church supper in Mississippi, yes — but also Wall Street. A star-spangled country, fabulously diverse.

Related to all this, of course, is “real people” (versus unreal people, presumably). Don’t even get me started …

• My sister found an article on Leopold Nordlinger, age 100 — a tennis enthusiast in France. No relation (at least not a direct one), but I wish he were: “C’est un vrai gentleman, charmant, discret, agréable.”

Heh.

• I loved a tweet from Amity Shlaes, the writer about Coolidge and other subjects. Such an important point:

Bringing free speech to campus doesn’t mean bringing the most offensive person you can, it means bringing the most credible guest from the side less heard. University presidents (usually center left) who merely bring wild people are suggesting that the other side is a cartoon.

• Care for some music? For my review of Anna Netrebko, who gave a recital in Carnegie Hall on Sunday afternoon, go here.

• Last week, we had a National Review cruise. It started in Fort Lauderdale. Do you want to see what Christmas grandeur looks like, at least in that city?

• Then there was Key West. Not just any place could support this enterprise, you know:

• Another taste of Florida — Deep Florida — Christmas:

• Drive your Chevy to the levee?

• I’m a sucker for bougainvillea, where’er it be:

• I’m a sucker for a white picket fence, too, especially with blooms like these:

• Hang on, Charlie, is this even legal?

• A guy on Grand Turk Island — gal? — just pokin’ along:

• A sweet, pretty church, on the same island:

• This is where all the stylish ladies on Grand Turk go:

• John Glenn splashed down near this island in 1962. A monument:

• Turks and Caicos is British. You drive on the left side of the road.

• Grand Turk features a high school, H. J. Robinson High School. Motto: Labor Omnia Vincit, or, Work Conquers All. (That happens to be the same motto as Oklahoma’s.)

• At HJRHS, you wear a uniform — a smart uniform: navy-blue shorts or skirt; light-blue button-down shirt; matching backpack.

I’m a sucker for school uniforms. I believe in them totally — for schools of virtually every sort. That’s the conservative in me. The uniforms breathe order, civilization, learning. At the same time, the libertarian in me says, “Don’t tread on me! I’ll wear whatever the hell I want, expressing my individuality!”

Time and place for everything, of course …

• According to a sign, school starts at 8:10 and gets out at 2:45. That strikes me as eminently reasonable.

• I walk past a gaggle of girls. One calls out, “Hey, daddy.” The rest of them laugh and laugh. Some time later, I walk past them again, going the other way. A girl (surely the same girl) calls out, “You come back for me, daddy?” I call back, “Not for you specifically. For the group as a whole, but not you in particular.”

Gales and gales of laughter. Shrieking laughter.

• The Dominican Republic is beautiful — lush, photogenic, almost otherworldly. Some human communities — shantytowns — are ugly. The contrast is stark.

I learned something from Charles Murray, long ago. Poverty need not mean dirtiness or messiness. It need not mean trash. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, he saw people as poor as you could imagine — much poorer than poor people in America. And they were neat as pins.

This is a cultural, mental, matter.

• What do you think of this little snippet of the Bahamas?

• How about this? Where is Brooke Shields? (The Blue Lagoon.) (Which I never saw, and still haven’t.)

• Back in Fort Lauderdale, a Christmas tableau. The “minion” on the right is a special touch.

Bless you, y’all, and thanks for joining me.

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