Another Perspective

Another Perspective

CPAC, An Idea Whose Time Has Gone

By 2.27.15

Attending the Conservative Political Action Conference for right-wingers plays much as losing one’s virginity does for many teenagers. An initial euphoria during the obligatory passage rite gives way to the overwhelming need for a shower.

The event won pseudo-event status for me moments before my big moment in the big ballroom more than a decade ago. A conference functionary inquired, as though I would be addressing a WWE audience rather than CPAC, about my theme music. The dilemma tormented. Should I make a grand entrance to old-school “Eye of the Tiger” Hulkster? Rock-n-Wrestling-Connection era “Real American”? Or perhaps “Voodoo Chile” of the circa-NWO Hollywood Hogan?

Naturally, the inquiry made me laugh. He told a joke, right? So why did he sternly look upon my hysterics—surely something much more than a solidarity snicker—about entrance music? If the introduction of stadium-style sonic accompaniment didn’t cue me into the infotainment vibe of the gathering, certainly the late Jane Russell—herself a bit overwhelmed by the Hollywood quality of it all but still all alpha female in her eighties—sitting to my right on the dais did.

Another Perspective

Uncle Don and Uncle Brian

By 2.25.15

For some reason the strange saga of Brian Williams reminds me of another equally bizarre story concerning Uncle Don, who ran a popular radio show for kids on WOR in New York when I was a preschooler in the distant past.

I listened to Uncle Don religiously in those days. It was every mother’s choice of wholesome entertainment for kids circa 1930s and my mom was no exception. Uncle Don sang songs and opened his program with a warm and cozy little ditty that went like this:

This is Your Uncle Don. Hello nephews, nieces too,
Mothers and daddies, how are you?
This is Uncle Don all set to go,
With a meeting on the ra-di-o!

Okay, so I had to google the exact words, but heck it’s been eight decades since I heard that tune. I do remember his cuddly voice. He would sing cute songs and announce kids’ birthdays; listening to Uncle Don was a standard routine for children about five or six.

Another Perspective

Palestinians in a State

By 2.24.15

Nearly half a century ago, back in 1968, Woody Allen had his own television show devoted to snappy quips about this and that. In one ten-minute segment, he brought William F. Buckley on as a guest and the two of them fielded questions from the audience. One earnest young woman directed her query to Mister Allen: “Do you think Israel should give back the land it won in last year’s war?”

Allen said no and then paused a moment for effect. “… I think they should sell it back.”

The audience laughed appreciatively but in fact that view has ever since been the official policy of both Israel and the United States. Israel is prepared to sell it back but there has been much haggling over the price. At the very least the demand is for the Palestinians who purchase it to practice civility and neighborliness in snuggling up against the Jewish state’s fragile border.

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From the OC to Oaktown, Drug War Opposition Builds

By 2.23.15

The times they are a-changin’. This week, a Republican congressman from Orange County, California, joined Oakland medical marijuana dispenser Steve DeAngelo to urge President Barack Obama, a Democrat who started out as a critic of the war on drugs, to curb his Department of Justice. They want Obama to make his prosecutors stop trying to shut down honest marijuana establishments in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and the left-leaning DeAngelo have found common cause in calling out one area in which the federal government can and should do less.

They’ve got the law on their side. For a decade, Rohrabacher and Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., pushed for legislation to prohibit the Department of Justice from using federal funds to go after medical cannabis operations in states that have legalized them. California was the first state in the nation to do so, in 1996.

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Top Ten Jobs for Jihadists

By 2.20.15

How do we get rid of the scourge of “violent extremism” without taking direct and violent action against the perpetrators of the worst crimes against humanity in recent history?

Often the best ideas come to us when we least expect them.

Taking a break from the cares of high office, Barack Obama was shooting imaginary hoops in the Oval Office one day last week — doing fist pumps every time he “scored.” Suddenly, it occurred to him that he had to do something more than hitting short or medium-range jumpers; something more, even, than nailing three’s from beyond the arc.

With time running out, he stepped behind a potted plant at the edge of the office and let a shot fly from downtown directed at the wastebasket alongside his desk. In his mind’s eye, he sank the game-winner!

“I’ve got it,” he told his aides. “This is what we will do. We will launch a comprehensive jobs-for-jihadists program. It will be the best thing since Midnight Basketball.”

Another Perspective

It’s the Virgins, Stupid

By 2.17.15

Eric Holder is planning conferences on the root causes of terrorism. That was his excuse for sitting out the “I am Charlie” demonstrations, even though he was in Paris at the time. That was a non sequitur, of course. No reason why you can’t do both. But there was a bigger story here. Why was the Attorney General representing us?

I can see why the President wasn’t there. He didn’t want to run into Bibi Netanyahu. Plus he has a major problem condemning terrorism.

But the Attorney General? That makes sense only if the attacks in Paris (and Denmark, and Ottawa, and London, and Madrid) should be seen as crimes, not terrorism. And root causes? We know who Holder has been reaching out to here—his Islamist buddies, including the Moslem Brotherhood. And we know their diagnosis: a lack of respect for Islam—Islamophobia—especially the kind that is said to occur immediately after some guy opens fire on innocent men, women and children while yelling “Allahu Akbar.” That the anti-Moslem violence never eventuates is irrelevant. By asserting their “anxiety” loudly and often, the Islamist sympathizers distract attention from the violence that actually occurred.

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Glib ‘Happy Talk’

By 2.17.15

When Alfred E. Neuman said “What me worry?” on the cover of Mad magazine, it was funny. But this message was not nearly as funny coming from President Barack Obama and his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice.

In a musical comedy, it would be hilarious to have the president send out his “happy talk” message by someone whose credibility was already thoroughly discredited by her serial lies on television about the Benghazi terrorist attack in 2012.

Unfortunately — indeed, tragically — the world today is about as far from a musical comedy as you can get, with terrorists rampaging across the Middle East, leaving a trail of unspeakable atrocities in their wake, and with Iran moving closer to producing a nuclear bomb, with an intercontinental missile on the horizon.

We will be lucky to get through the remainder of President Obama’s term in office without a major catastrophe, from which we may or may not recover.

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Let Him Who Is Without Spin…

By 2.12.15

I work on a treadmill of shameless self-promotion. Most mornings, I’ve tweeted before 6 a.m. When I’m not working on my column, I’m often blogging, posting on Facebook, jabbering on the radio (less often on TV) or speaking at a venue such as the Commonwealth Club of California.

I don’t want to bore anyone. I want people to like me — well, some people. So though I know that NBC News anchor Brian Williams had to take a leave of absence for six months — perhaps for good — to atone for concocting tall tales dirty with self-puffery, I also suspect that the handsome face of NBC News was under tremendous pressure to inflate his working persona. In 2015, it’s as important that top TV newscasters be a good story as it is that they report good stories. Maybe more important, as Williams showed courage in putting himself in a war zone.

Williams’ Chinook Down incident in Iraq occurred with other members of the network’s news team. Thus, Williams could not self-aggrandize without the consent — perhaps grudging consent — of his colleagues and the knowledge of higher-ups.

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It’s Time to ‘Snowden’ Putin

By and 2.9.15

Ronald Reagan once said, “The difference between a republic and a people's republic is a lot like the difference between a jacket and a straitjacket.”

The same can be said about lethal aid vis-à-vis non-lethal aid. When Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed Congress he said, “Blankets and night-vision goggles are important, but one cannot win a war with blankets!”

Ukraine’s military cannot defeat Russia militarily. It is quite likely that any “lethal” military aid sent will be enough to antagonize Putin, but not enough to make a difference.

We cannot treat Ukrainians (or Russians) like chess pieces. Both economies have been battered by this war. In 2014, Russia lost $100 billion from lower oil prices, and another $40 billion from sanctions. While the average Russian is hurting, Vladimir Putin is not.

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Our Islam Problem—and Islam’s: Our Position

By 2.5.15

Pierre Rigoulot is a French historian, author of many books on the Collaboration period and communist regimes, notably in Cuba and North Korea. A contributor to the Black Book of Communism, he directs the Institute for Social History, a Paris think tank founded by Boris Souvarine and headed, since the passing of the much regretted Jean-François Revel, by Emanuel LeRoi Ladurie. In the wake of the January terrorist massacres in Paris, which decimated the editorial leadership of the satirical paper Charlie-Hebdo and cost the lives of personnel in the police, the building housing the paper’s editorial offices, as well as, in a coordinated attack, customers in a kosher grocery, there has been a massive mobilization in France to defend the Republic against its enemies, foreign and domestic. But who are France’s enemies? It is this critical question which Mr. Rigoulot, in the name of his Institute, addressed in this editorial a week ago. — Roger Kaplan