n a recent interview with the New York Post, Tom Hanks talked of working with Paul Newman, on the film Road to Perdition. Newman was much more relaxed than you think hes going to be. Much leaner than you think possible. His eyes are bluer than you think. And he was always giving me radical left-wing newsletters.
Ah, wouldnt it be nice to be extravagantly rich, and able to indulge in left-wing fantasies? Liberals tend to think that the super-rich are hard-nosed capitalists. Actually, as we know, many of them forget (or never knew) how money is made, how material contentment along with much else is achieved.
Yes, it would be nice to be Paul Newman, handsome, effortlessly rich, and illusion-filled.
J. C. Watts is retiring, and the media and other Democrats are having a field day saying there are no black Republicans left in Congress. Not a-one!
But lets sober them up a little. Whats never mentioned is that, whenever we field a black candidate, the Democratic party moves heaven and earth to defeat him. Well have a black nominee somewhere: and the Democrats will make sure to stomp him like a bug, probably hinting, or outright saying, that the guys a Tom anyway.
Indeed, I believe Democrats work all the harder to defeat black Republicans, because they believe that such individuals violate the laws of nature: God intended for blacks to be Democrats, and to vote Democratic, and the Democratic party is to be the sole protector and representative of blacks. Period.
I remember when Gary Franks a black Republican was a congressman from Connecticut. The Democrats were extra keen on defeating him, because he stood, in part, as a rebuke to them. And, by golly, they did.
This leads to another memory: of Doug Wilders historic run for governor of Virginia. During that campaign, it was said, from coast to coast, that Wilder would be the first black governor since Reconstruction. This was said over and over again. It was implied, everywhere, that it was the duty of Virginians to elect him. If they didnt, they would have spat in the face of history, and proven themselves . . . racist.
Well, well. It so happens that, shortly before, we Michiganders had a black nominee for governor: Bill Lucas. He was a Republican. And I never once heard that Lucas would be the first black governor since Reconstruction. There was no national excitement which is to say, no media excitement about him. And would it be entirely inappropriate to add that, where strict color was concerned, Lucas was a helluva lot blacker than Doug Wilder?
But he was, of course, a Republican, and therefore considered illegitimately black. He was soundly defeated by a white liberal politician named James Blanchard.
And no one cared. And they probably shouldnt have. But the contrast between the Lucas race and the Wilder race was striking, never to be forgotten.
So, guys: No black Republicans in Congress? Is the Democratic party willing to step aside and let those Republicans win? Are you kidding? And, of course, they shouldnt. But they should be a lot less smug about this no blacks in Congress thing.
Did Republicans rub it into the faces of Democrats that the only black senator since Reconstruction, for years and years, was a Republican (Ed Brooke of Massachusetts)? I dont remember. But I doubt it.
Forgive me, but I sort of like that the man who lopped off the head of a statue of Margaret Thatcher in London is a theater director. A fitting profession for such a man, given the state of the theater, given the state of our politics! I also like this: that, according to Reuters, the attacker, Paul Kelleher, told police that he had done it because he blamed Thatcher for promoting capitalism and endangering the world.
Thats true, and honest: promoting capitalism. Endangering the world? For left-wing theater directors who vandalize statues with cricket bats and iron poles, maybe.
You may have read the item that, after functioning for a half-century, Radio Free Europe has stopped broadcasting in Czechoslovakia (or, rather, the Czech Republic sorry. Old habit). RFE had already pulled out of Hungary and Poland. As the New York Times reported, the service is saying that money saved by ending the Czech broadcasts [will] be used to expand programs aimed at Central Asia, Iraq, and Iran.
Quite so. The struggle, unfortunately, continues, in other theaters. We hear a lot about the post-Cold War world, and it can almost seem an abstraction. What is this world? The redirection of RFE tells us something. It is less dramatic, needless to say, than 9/11. But it is an illustration.
One thing the people around John Ashcroft will tell you is that we are in an uncertain new world, and we are sort of feeling our way around, as far as rights, reactions, and protection are concerned. Those most knowledgeable about the law have the greatest sympathy for what the Justice Department is facing. Those who are ignorant simply pop off, saying that Ashcroft is shredding the Constitution, deep-sixing civil liberties, and so on.
This brings me to Stuart Taylor, widely regarded as the finest legal journalist in the country, a man of huge learning, experience, and discretion, once a reporter at the New York Times, now a columnist for National Journal. (That column is titled Opening Argument.)
Stuart knows as much about the law and legal history and theory and arguments as anyone around. He was first in his class at Harvard Law School, which Im told is a distinction. He began a recent column as follows:
What I like about this is its humility. And for someone who knows as much as Taylor, humility is natural, perhaps paradoxically.
Im reminded, too, of something my friend and ex-colleague at The Weekly Standard Claudia Winkler said, during the Elián controversy: I feel torn about this issue. What troubles me is that the other side doesnt.
Did you hear Al Gore say that, if he runs again, hes really going to let er rip, not hold back, like last time? Because, you remember, Gore was such a demure and gentlemanly candidate.
What would that mean, letting er rip? A fellow journalist and I were discussing this, with increasing levels of hilarity and amazement. Would it mean that Gore would physically attack Bush, instead of coming within an inch or two of his face? That he would say that Bush wanted to kill black people and old people, instead of keeping them down and throwing them in the snow? That pro-Gore ads would claim that Bush personally tied James Byrd to the truck, then got behind the wheel and floored it, in a murderous joy ride, rather than merely countenancing and supporting that lynching?
Al Gore let er rip against the hapless Bill Bradley, then again against Bush. When a questioner at a forum brought up Social Security reform, Gore turned to his senior-citizen prop and said, You ready for some day tradin, Winnie? Before the NAACP, referring to opposition to the method of sampling in the U.S. census, he bellowed, They dont even want to count you!
NRs Utah whiz kid Jason Steorts brought to my attention this delightful tidbit from Dana Cloud, associate professor of Communications Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. Communications Studies: Its just too perfect.
My daughter, who is 11, and I were delighted at the California court decision omitting the words under God from the Pledge of Allegiance. She and I have always been uncomfortable saying the pledge, not only because of the religious imposition, but because it seems very strange to pledge loyalty to a scrap of cloth representing a corrupt nation that imposes its will, both economic and military, around the world by force. So she inspired me to rewrite the Pledge.
Imagine schoolchildren every day reciting the following:
I pledge allegiance to all the ordinary people around the world, to the laid-off Enron workers and the WorldCom workers and the maquiladora workers and the sweatshop workers from New York to Indonesia, who labor not under God but under the heel of multinational corporations; I pledge allegiance to the people of Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan, and to their struggles to survive and resist slavery to corporate greed, brutal wars against their families, and the economic and environmental ruin wrought by global capitalism; I pledge allegiance to building a better world where human needs are met and with real liberty, equality and justice for all.
The original pledge does not include or represent us godless radicals. The backlash against the California decision shows just how thin our democracy is.
Actually, babe, it shows that its awake and robust.
How much money would you pay to see the makers of The Last Temptation of Christ make a similar film about the Prophet Muhammad? How long would they be alive? An hour? An hour and fifteen minutes?
Lets wrap up with a little language. A reader writes, Maybe this is not new, but I laughed out loud last night when I heard Fox News refer to those who are suing Southwest Airlines because they are to be charged for two seats as persons of size repeatedly.
Its new to me. Sounds like a parody, like a bit of right-wing anti-PC mocking. Problem is, you can never tell. As Ive had frequent occasion to mention, its hard to satirize or mock the Left. They kind of beat you to it.
I will tell you, too, that I recently returned from a high-school reunion in the wilds of northwest Michigan. My, five years flies by. (For the overly literal and obtuse: That was a joke.) There was a big banner at the entrance of the school reading, Welcome Alumni.
It could be that such banner-makers cant use commas. But to really pick at this poor school Welcome Alumni means, It is your duty to welcome graduates of the school. Welcome, Alumni, means, Good to see you, bubs glad youre here!
I also noticed though this doesnt relate strictly to language that, on menus all over northern Michigan, there is a warning reading, May cause food-borne illnesses. This lovely little line is found around hamburgers and the like. Has it come to that?
Oh, one more word about alumni. I worked at the University of Michigan golf course, which had a structured fee system, involving different rates for students, staff, faculty, and alumni. People would come in all the time and say, Im an alumni which I figured was proof positive that they had, indeed, graduated from the University of Michigan!