Paradox W


Anyone else reading Decision Points, the Bush memoir?  I’m almost done and really enjoying it.  Very well-written for one of these things — former Bush speechwriter Christopher Michel was, I believe, the invisible hand.  I’m finding it a deeply pleasant and nostalgic experience to remember what it was like to have a president who cared more about the office and the country than himself.

I am struck, however–I should say struck again–by Bush’s frustrating refusal to engage directly with his enemies in the news media.  They treated him like garbage, made scandals where there were none (Valerie Plame), gave credence to critics and criticisms (Cindy Sheehan) that did not deserve it, covered the war on terror in a way designed to insure its failure (the NY  Times called it a quagmire after three weeks) and covered Katrina with what was tantamount to hate speech.  And yet, though Bush does try to explain himself in the book, he never really confronts the media’s rabid and despicable animosity.

The Gray Lady and the Saudis


Interestingly, Peter, just by coincidence, I have two books on my desk right now: One is Gray Lady Down, which Encounter Books was kind enough to send me following our podcast discussion. The other is Mitchell Bard’s The Arab Lobby, which I’m supposed to be writing about for National Review (rather than procrastinating here on Ricochet). So I’m exceedingly prepared to discuss both of your posts at very great length. However, if you think I drive you hard, you should see what I’m doing to myself: I’m in an agony of self-loathing about this review, which I’ve been putting off for far too long.

Why am I putting it off, you ask? That should be easy for me to write about, shouldn’t it? Here’s the problem: I wrote my doctoral dissertation about the role of ethnic lobby groups in shaping US arms transfer policy toward the Arab-Israeli antagonists. I could therefore write ten pages about every sentence in that book, and I’m not kidding–I pretty much already have. The subject really requires a doctoral dissertation’s worth of comment; and the more you know about it, the more complicated it seems. 

Essentially, liberals loathe Americans


Mediate offers a snarky clip from yesterday’s Face the Nation episode, in which Bob Schieffer tries to get Theodore Roosevelt biographer Edmund Morris to hypothesize on Teddy’s probable opinion of today’s Tea Partiers. Morris doesn’t bite but instead calls it a [expletive deleted and bleeped on TV] question because “you cannot pluck people out of the past and expect them to comment on what’s happening today.” Instead, Morris, living entirely in the present, takes the opportunity to offer his own view of contemporary Americans:

I see an insular people who are insensitive to foreign sensibilities, who are lazy, obese, complacent and increasingly perplexed as to why [Americans] are losing our place in the world to people who are more dynamic than us and more disciplined.

America’s Youth Are a Bunch of Godless Apostates


Two of my closest friends in college were converts to Christianity.  Neither had grown up in a religious household, but as adolescents each read the Bible cover to cover, began attending church weekly, and adopted the Christian faith.  In college, the two attended the same church as I and participated in Bible studies and prayer groups.  But one day as we neared the end of our days as undergraduates, in a move that surprised everyone who knew them, both renounced Christianity and declared themselves “faithless.”

And yet, as shocking and heartbreaking as it was to witness my friends rationalize their loss of faith, apostasy — leaving or renouncing one’s faith — apparently isn’t too unusual among young Americans.  A fascinating article in Christianity Today documents the phenomenon of young Americans’ increasing abandonment of religion.

Meanwhile, in Nicaragua


When I was in college it was chic to love the Sandinistas. They had three things going for them: they were romantic rebels going up against a gouty strong-man; Reagan opposed them; the Clash named an album after them. Never mind that there was something Fielding-Mellish-like about Ortega –  the Sandinistas were cool! Jump forward a few decades, and let’s see how that hero-worship plays out:

Nicaragua’s constitution limits presidents to two non-consecutive terms. Having previously served from 1985 to 1990, during the Sandinista revolution which toppled the Somoza dictatorship, Mr Ortega is doubly barred from running again. Mimicking his Venezuelan ally Hugo Chávez, he has tried to abolish term limits. When the required 60% majority in parliament proved elusive, he appealed to allies in the Supreme Court, who ruled that the re-election ban violated his human rights. Mr Ortega has since illegally extended the terms of these justices.

Solution to Global Warming? Easy! Stop Economic Growth.


Finally, we’ve got some clarity on the subject of climate change.  Gathering in sunny, fun, cruise-ship-friendly Cancun — and how do they pick these places? — global environmental bureaucrats are fretting in keynote speeches and breakout panels about just how to stop the climate from changing.

One paper to be delivered has the solution: stop economic growth in the west.  From the Daily Telegraph:

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Olga rode with me to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving. She was unhappy about the recent elections and she vented often about how stupid Americans are. Stupid American-flaggy billboards & bumper stickers flowed all around us. Stupid fancy cars passed us impatiently. She resented paying the Indiana Turnpike toll because the stupid Republican governor had privatised it […]

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s president on Monday took responsibility for failing to protect his citizens from a deadly North Korean artillery attack last week, vowing tough consequences for any future aggression and expressing outrage over the “ruthlessness of the North Korean regime.” Lee Myung-bak’s short speech to the country came as a nuclear-powered […]

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Why You Should Care About the Election Disaster in Haiti


Because, for one thing, you’re paying for it. For another, those are not professional victims of endless disaster, but real human beings. If you want to follow it in a way that moves a bit beyond “There goes another disaster in Haiti,” here’s a Twitter feed from someone who makes the headlines less abstract. 

Of course a cholera center only smells like a chlorinated pool. It looks like nothing of the sort.12:10 AM Nov 26th via Twitterrific

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When the Climategate emails emerged, the NY Times refused to publish them, because they had been illegally obtained and contained personal information.  Somehow those principles don’t seem to apply to Wikileaks. Preview Open

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Note to Portland Arsonists: You, Too, Are Scum


I really don’t want the friendship of some of the nuts who seem eager to extend it to me. I don’t want to hear one word of enthusiasm or justification for the arsonists who torched the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center in Portland. Not one word. Yes, of course that place needs to be investigated, given that one of its congregants turns out to be a terrorist. It needs to be investigated by the legal authorities, acting in accordance with the law, and if you don’t like that law, that’s why we have elections. I’m not on your side, lunatics. Don’t dream that I am.

Anyone who sets a fire that could easily kill not only the people they suspect may be inciting terrorism but their children, neighbors and bystanders–and those neighbors’ and bystanders’ children–needs a long stay in a Federal penitentiary to get their heads straight. There they can meditate at leisure on such concepts as evidence, due process, the rule of law, and the unwisdom of modeling your country’s approach to these issues on Lebanon’s.

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Here is another side of Dr. Seuss I encountered recently.  Quite the “knotty problem” indeed. In Knotty Problem, Seuss humorously depicts Congress hard at work using plumb bobs,T-squares, surveyors’ transits, scales and drawing compasses as they go about their time-honored tradition of finding a way to raise taxes without losing a single vote. Preview Open

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