The Ryan-Murray Budget Deal. The Mount Vernon Assembly. On the surface, one issue has nothing to do with the other. In reality? They are tied together, the very existence of the first — and the stunning lack of credibility of Speaker John Boehner — explaining the reason for the second.
Countless books, documentaries, and news segments have been queued up to mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963. That was also the day C.S. Lewis died.
Unlike Kennedy, Lewis died of natural causes: likely one part weak heart, two parts kidney failure. According to Devin Brown’s new biography A Life Observed, at four that afternoon, Lewis’s older brother Warnie “carried tea to the small downstairs bedroom of his home” in the Kilns at Oxford where Lewis was resting. They exchanged a few forgettable words. At 5:30, Warnie “heard a sound and rushed to find his brother lying unconscious at the foot of his bed. A few minutes later…Lewis ceased breathing.” It was one week shy of his 65th birthday.
Most Americans have never heard of Chris Hani or Oliver Tambo, both of whom died in 1993, and there was no fanfare in the U.S. media when Arthur Goldreich died two years ago. Since Nelson Mandela’s death last Thursday, the names of his former comrades in the anti-apartheid struggle have been omitted from the media narrative. The MSNBC hostess who last week enthusiastically credited Mandela with having “singlehandedly” ended apartheid was merely reducing to its ridiculous essence a myth that has become ubiquitous. What has been carefully omitted from the media myth — along with the names of many of Mandela’s colleagues in the African National Congress — is that the ANC was a communist-dominated party closely allied with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
I’m in a tough spot. Paul Ryan is one of the brightest stars in the Republican Party. He is a true fiscal (and social) conservative, and I cheered when Mitt Romney selected him as his running mate (although I wished Ryan rather than Romney were the presidential candidate, and I still hope he will be in the future). Ryan towers, literally and figuratively, over his Democratic opposition-turned-collaborators.
But the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 announced Tuesday, negotiated almost entirely between Mr. Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA), is so disappointing — so far from what I’m sure Ryan himself would really want — that it’s difficult to support.
WASHINGTON — A superb report in the Wall Street Journal by that inimitable journalist, James Taranto, moves me to reflect on the modern university and things sexual. Mr. Taranto has come across another of those poor saps, a male student as fate would have it, who fell into the clutches of a predatory female student.
There are 12 days of Christmas but I’ve managed to isolate the five or six stages of Christmas shopping, in which I go from anger to grief to acceptance.
I begin in my annual Scrooge-like denial — the grumpy vow that I haven’t got it in me any longer to fight the crowds and to try to come up with clever gifts for everyone. But somehow I stumble through the aisles yet again, a crumpled gift list clenched in my clammy hand, and come up with something that will have to make do. It may not be clever, but, by god, it’ll be smartly wrapped. This is my defiant mode.
In this stage I consider abandoning shopping altogether and begin browsing my house for things I’ve never used, or even opened, that might be disguised as Christmas gifts. The problem here is that it’s hard to think of someone who might be the right recipient of a set of steak knives I ordered off the TV set in a rash moment, or a biography of Harpo Marx I got at a library sale for $3. This is even chintzier than re-gifting, and it so depresses me that I’m finally forced to hit the stores — if not exactly running, tiptoeing.
According to the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, Americans are less safe from terrorist attacks than they were a year or two ago.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal) said, according to a Washington Post report, that terrorist groups are more numerous and have more sophisticated, hard-to-detect bombs. That story included Cong. Mike Rogers’s (R-MI) statements that al Qaeda is growing and that terrorists are adapting to a strategy of smaller attacks.
Rogers, according to that same report, said al Qaeda is changing because groups around the world that used to operate independently are joining with al Qaeda.
This is no time to joke about Obama’s campaign rhetoric claiming that al Qaeda was dead and GM still alive because of him. Rogers and Feinstein are as well informed on these matters as anyone in Congress, and what they say must give us pause.
Once again we are faced with the question of whether our intelligence apparatus is as good as it can be and whether its assets are being applied to the best advantage. The answer to that is an unfortunate — and possibly tragic — no.
As a public figure in the Central African Republic, President Francois Bozize did pretty well, staying in power from 2003 to 2013 and getting out with his life and, one cannot say with certainty but with a fair presumption based on precedent, a stash sufficient to keep him happy in West African and French exile.
Democrats make a lot of silly statements. The trick isn’t finding a pronouncement by a liberal politician which — in a way nearly unique to politics — simultaneously brings a grimace, a giggle, and a groan, but figuring out whether the speaker is an outright liar or just living in a liberal echo chamber reminiscent of Pauline Kael (or at least the political mythology surrounding her).
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is a reliable representative of the outright liar camp: No echo is loud enough to make her actually believe that Democratic candidates will run (and win) on the issue of Obamacare, but she says it repeatedly, hoping that the Big Lie strategy will work just one more time.
When he was elected president of South Africa in 1994, Nelson Mandela’s country was a sizzling stovetop of grievances and ideologies, a place where the vestiges of Apartheid mixed with newer black nationalist and Marxist resentments. The pressures Mandela faced were enormous.
One of them was to follow the example of Robert Mugabe, president of nearby Zimbabwe. A gapingly disproportionate amount of land in both Zimbabwe and South Africa was owned by the white minority. Mugabe was in the process of implementing a sweeping, coercive land reform plan that would redistribute land en masse, and without compensation, from whites to black farmers. This ultimately hyper-inflated his currency and annihilated the Rhodesian economy.
Still new to the Deep South, on Sunday afternoon we attended a holiday cultural performance held in our Alabama hometown’s splendid high school auditorium. The elaborately decorated stage was resplendent with professional performers who were joined by local school children. The latter had plainly taken their rehearsals seriously and were visibly thrilled to be participating.
Moreover, private donations funded almost two thousand tickets for children from the surrounding county to attend one of the performances presented over the past few days. The auditorium was abuzz with a very diverse crowd of uniformly excited kids.
Yet imagine our consternation when we saw children on stage playing the roles of tin soldiers, armed with toy rifles and swords. What is more, the guns (which even included an artillery piece) were fired with staged deadly effect on numerous adversaries. And, more shocking still, one child used his sword to stab to death a threatening creature, and then to cut off a crown attached to its head. An imitation scalping, in effect, carried out by a young boy in front of hundreds of even younger and surely impressionable school children.
LYNDEN, Washington — Canadians at the border crossings in the northwestern-most county of the continental United States just keep on coming.
According Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute, about 300,000 Canadian-driven cars crossed over the border from British Columbia into Whatcom County this July to shop and buy cheap American gas. That was about four times as many bargain hunters as the BPRI researchers found when last they surveyed traffic in July 2007
Many, many locals are not happy about this, as I chronicled last column.
Retailers are happy to have the business but are wary about too greatly expand their existing capacity, for fear that the Loonie-Dollar exchange rate might dramatically change and leave them holding the proverbial overinflated bag.
Capacity will increase if the peaceful invasion continues. In the meantime, the locals and the Caunckleheads compete for resources: for milk in supermarkets, which have only so much refrigeration capacity; for school clothes; for Christmas bargains; for gas; for alcohol, whose after-tax price in BC is practically a human rights violation.
Cant about Mandela’s legacy as a world without human rights abuses is hard to take seriously from leaders who routinely commit them. An assortment of human rights abusers turned up at his rainy memorial in South Africa, with some of them, like the mass murderer Raul Castro, given the most prominent places on the dais.
The media, of course, is treating reaction to Mandela’s death as a test of one’s civilized bona fides. Unless a public figure heaps indiscriminate praise upon Mandela, he is simply not a good person, maybe even a secret racist. In this climate, Republican pols, desperate for a pat on the head from the mainstream media, are making inane remarks about Mandela as the George Washington of South Africa. He was more like the John Brown of South Africa. His cause, ending apartheid, was admirable, but his means to that end, conducting a terror campaign for the ANC, were immoral and criminal. That is why even liberals at Amnesty International wouldn’t touch Mandela in the 1960s.
A more realistic assessment of Mandela’s legacy comes from the author David Horowitz:
The late, great Milton Friedman used to say, there's no such thing as a free lunch. The ancient Romans had another pointed saying: "Quod erat demonstrandum," meaning, roughly, remember now what I told you, doofus?
To put it another way, is there room for surprise in the report that high deductibles may contribute to making Obamacare something less than the divine blessing its authors meant it to be? For all the comforting promises out of D.C., relayed to the general public with profound sweetness, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Someone always pays. To believe otherwise is a) to believe money grows on trees, or b) not to care, so long as someone else picks up the check.
Obamacare's underlying philosophy is b ). In other words, a Democratic Congress, at the instigation of the White House, planned all along that good old Peter would pay Paul in the name of good old income redistribution.
President Obama veered hard left last week, trying to change the subject from Obamacare to “inequality.” Obama and his Obamabots reflect a lot of confusion whenever they start using this word.
There are two fundamentally different concepts of “Equality.” One is equality under the law, that everyone should face the same rules. That was central to the American Revolution itself, which was the historic cutting edge to abolish the legal “aristocracy,” nobility, monarchy, and all of their vestiges in the law. There is no political dispute today over this form of equality. Republicans and conservatives support equality under the law just as much as Democrats, “liberals,” and Marxists ostensibly do.
When New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski began writhing on the ground and clutching his knee, it immediately brought back memories of another late-season game four years ago.
The flawed but playoff-bound Patriots were in Houston. Wide receiver Wes Welker, the offense’s most dependable playmaker, seemed to tweak his knee on the tangled Reliant Stadium turf. (In 2012, a former Texans punter sued over the turf.) Welker ended up tearing his ACL and MCL. He rode off in a cart and New England’s hopes of actually accomplishing anything in the postseason — they were eliminated in the wild card round after an embarrassing home loss to the Baltimore Ravens — left with him.
History may repeat itself with Gronk now suffering the same season-ending injury (and a possible minor concussion to boot). At least it wasn’t Bernard Pollard this time. But if that happens, it will be a shame because this has been a much tougher and more resilient Patriots team.
As Christmas approaches, the shopping mall can become a shopping maul. One of the ways of buying gifts for family and friends, without becoming part of a mob scene in the stores, is to shop on the Internet. However, for many kinds of gifts, you want to be able to see it directly, and perhaps handle it, before you part with your hard-earned cash for it.
One gift for which that is unnecessary is a book. Books are ideal Christmas presents from the standpoint of saving wear and tear on the buyer.
There are the traditional coffee table books, featuring marvelous photographs by Ansel Adams or the moving human scenes in the paintings of Norman Rockwell, both of which are very appropriate books for the holiday season. But there are also more serious, or even grim, books that some people will appreciate as they read them in the new year.
One of these latter kinds of books is the recently published "Why We Won't Talk Honestly About Race" by Harry Stein. It is a bracing dose of truth, on a subject where sugarcoated lies have become the norm.
By Paul Johnson
(Viking, 164 pages, $25.95)
For those of you with readers and music lovers on your Christmas list, boy do I have the perfect stocking-stuffer.
Conservative British historian, journalist, and author Paul Johnson is rightly esteemed for his early long and detailed historical books, including A History of Christianity, Modern Times, A History of the Jews, The Birth of the Modern, and A History of the American People. Those with vast amounts of reading time can learn vast amounts from these meticulous works, which are still available.
An exhausting day shopping in Beverly Hills, then back to paying bills in my office… that bill paying part is hell.
But listening to the fifties station on XM… that is paradise. Those are songs from 55 or 57 years ago, and I recall every word. The Platters, The Drifters, The Olympics, The Cadillacs, Harvey and the Moonglows, Little Richard, Elvis, The Janettes, Ike and Tina Turner. Those songs take me away from my cares of bills and obligations and in my mind’s eye I am dancing with Gay Patlen in the gym at Montgomery Blair High School. I am not sure I ever did but the fantasy is very strong. Only XM can make it light up in my brain. The sock hops at the Silver Spring Armory. The cute Irish girls with their little crosses and their tight skirts and bobby socks. How I loved those girls. I sometimes even danced with them. It is hard to believe but I was once a good dancer of the jitterbug, Washington style. And XM brings all those memories back to me.