You don’t have to be young to find Christmas the best day of the year, even if the latest edition occurs (it increasingly seems) no more than a day since the previous one. It doesn’t even have to be celebrated in a wintry wonderland. A sandy one will do, thanks very much. So thank you especially to Larry Thornberry, who captures the day at a certain place and time simply perfectly (p. 64). All the Grinches in the world can’t steal Christmas from us (pp. 16, 36, 41). It might even be the one time of the year we can feel sorry for them, as we wish them another year no less miserable than this last one. Maybe if they spent more time reading (p. 30) they’d find some greater purpose in life and we could then get along the way—Christmas reminds us—we’re supposed to.
Whenever we stand on the threshold of a new year, we are tempted to forget the hazards of prophecy, and try to see what may lie on the other side of this arbitrary division of time. Sometimes we are content to try to change ourselves with New Year's resolutions to do better in some respect. Changing ourselves is a much more reasonable undertaking than trying to change other people. It may or may not succeed, but it seldom creates the disasters that trying to change others can produce.
When we look beyond ourselves to the world around us, peering into the future can be a very sobering, if not depressing, experience.
Obamacare looms large and menacing on our horizon. This is not just because of computer problems, or even because some people who think that they have enrolled may discover at their next visit to a doctor that they do not have any insurance coverage.
And so with ukuleles and autoharps, and cheers and groans, Americans usher Obamacare onto the public stage, knowing -- with hope, with disgust, with fear, with acceptance -- that the thing is here to stay, in the way all government programs, once enacted, hang around like a deadbeat brother-in-law: chain-smoking, impossible to get rid of.
Foes and friends of Obamacare understand this truth: You never get rid of a government program. Did Ronald Reagan, despite vows and expectations, ever get rid of the promiscuous and worthless Department of Education? Or the Department of Energy? Hardly. In like-manner, Obamacare will endure. The government already claims 1.1 million sign-ups. It is below original expectations; each one nevertheless represents an aspiration not even a President Cruz would find possible to repudiate. And more sign-ups are to come.
Why all the grouching and complaining about 2013? Was it that bad? In the perspective of the long record of human folly and perversity? In comparison with 1941 or ’42? With reference to the year our forces marched into an ambush at a place called Kasserine, or less than 10 years later, when they very nearly were over run by Chicom hordes streaming across the Yalu River? Buck up, people! There have been worse moments in the Republic’s epic history, and it would not be epic were there no occasions to fear for its success and even survival.
By any objective reckoning, the trials and disappointments of 2013 are little more than slight dips in the forward march of American civilization. We may be dismayed by the spectacle of a federal government that seems like nothing so much as an obese slob on a binge, eating and drinking and farting to such a degree he cannot even recognize what an embarrassment he is to his friends and family, but there are students of our national story who think this is not unusual. Our government rises to the occasion when the situation becomes really dire, and the rest of the time it just plods along.
I love my V1 radar detector. It has without doubt saved me thousands that would otherwise been mulcted out of my hide by radar-trapping cops — and it has made driving fun again. But it’s got an issue you probably ought to be aware of.
I suspect other radar detectors have the same issue, too.
More and more new cars now come with park sensors, or collision-avoidance/lane departure warning systems. Some of these systems use — you guessed it — radar or laser signals to sense the presence of objects around the perimeter of the car. These signals constantly emanate from within (and around) the car.
(Watch video here.)
The V1 picks up this “noise” — and false alerts — because it cannot weed out the signals generated by your car’s electronics (which in my experience generate police-type K band signals) and police radar, which is almost always K or Ka band. So, as you’re driving along, the detector is beeping the warning tone for K band — and the LED warning lights are dancing — even when there’s no cop around for miles.
A second marriage, it is said, is the triumph of hope over experience. So is a European Union debate over defense. It is Kabuki theater, an enthralling show without practical impact. The Europeans recently issued new promises to do more than free ride on the U.S. However, if they really want to make a difference, they must devote real resources to their militaries and to take real risks in deploying their forces — which no one expects.
In late December European leaders assembled in Brussels for the latest European Council meeting. (Don’t worry if you’re confused: there’s also a commission and parliament; they all do very important things, even though it’s hard to figure out what!) It was the first Council meeting in eight years focused on defense since the Europeans have no one to defend against. It’s been five years since the body offered more than a pro forma mention of the issue.
Well, that only took decades.
Who knew that the Leftist Playbook would finally get seriously winged by a duck caller?
By now, as even we holiday partiers have learned, the A&E network has sheepishly backpedaled. In direct response to a fierce public outcry the network un-suspended Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the wildly popular Duck Dynasty series. Robertson had been temporarily banned after an interview in GQ in which he colorfully pronounced his religious views on gays and Jim Crow laws, instantly launching demands from the left-wing Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD) and others that he be canned on the spot.
Huffed GLAAD to Fox News:
Norman Mailer: A Double Life
By J. Michael Lennon
(Simon & Schuster, 948 pages, $40)
This thick block of a book is packed with facts, literary analysis, and well-drawn portraits of the people who played roles in Norman Mailer’s life and career, all written in a carefully modulated and steady prose, with no wasted words.
J. Michael Lennon, professor emeritus of English at Wilkes University, met Norman Mailer in 1972, and since that meeting has been involved in collecting, collating, and editing various Mailer works. As Mailer’s literary executor, he is now editing Mailer’s correspondence for publication.
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Of Mice and Men
by Wlady Pleszczynski
What Shutdown?” That was going to be my opening line, but without the quotation marks. But now that the Wall Street Journal has asked the question in a headline, credit must be shared, but only up to a point. The Journal was reacting to October job numbers, which showed unexpected growth in private sector employment—despite ominous warnings that an October shutdown would slow the economy. It didn’t happen.
What’s more, and this is my larger point, what has universally been called a “shutdown” was at best a partial shutdown, affecting no more than 17 percent of government employees—“nonessential” employees, as if the remaining 83 percent were in fact essential. Without a bona fide shutdown, how will we ever know how much more less government we can not only survive but thrive under?
There was a time when no professional intelligence operations officer would talk about his business with a journalist or anyone else who was not officially involved with these activities. The breakdown came in the 1970s — first with the Nixon Administration and then with Carter. The reasons were different, but the end result was the same. These “unauthorized disclosures” increased as congressional oversight was stimulated by the Pike and Church committees. The instigation of this “talking out of school” was multi-sourced but ultimately evolved from Defense Department competition with the CIA and personal animosity between CIA operational leaders, William Colby and James Angleton (Director and Chief of Counter-Intelligence Staff, respectively). None of this should have happened, but it did.