harlie Rangel, among others, says that he opposes military action because too many black and brown people serve in the military.
This brings up all sorts of problems. First, theres the suggestion of racism in the Rangel position. Second, theres the rank separatism (are these not Americans?). Third, would he bar black and Hispanic citizens from serving in the military? Fourth, does the presence of people of color in the military act as a veto on any American military action (except for occasional invasions of Haiti, at the insistence of a fasting Randall Robinson)? Fifth, if that is the case, why maintain a military at all? Sixth . . .
And yet, its so absurd, theres no need to keep going.
Do you remember when we were proud of the militarys integration? It was the shining example, to all of us. Now . . . a source of division. Figures.
The Wall Street Journal had what I would consider an unfortunate headline: With Iraqi Vote, Husseins Party Shows Its Cohesion. Cohesion? It showed its effectiveness in terror. Those people voted at the point of bayonet.
I loved this line within the article: The mass of the population, freely or not, announced its loyalty. Freely or not thats a fine clause! And how bout the word loyalty? Sheer fear, and instinct for self-preservation, would be more like it.
Saddam Hussein was not content with 98.9 percent, or 99.7: He had to go for the whole enchilada 100 percent. This scores . . . well, a perfect ten, so to speak, on the Tirana Index.
Connoisseurs of Charles Krauthammer will remember the Tirana Index. The columnist invented this sometime in the mid-1980s, I believe. Enver Hoxha, the Communist dictator of Albania (whose capital is Tirana), used to win by 99.6 percent numbers like that. You always wondered about the .4 percent democratic window-dressing, in all likelihood. Krauthammer decided that you could gauge the democratic legitimacy of a country by measuring it on a Tirana index: The higher the percentage, the less free the election.
Well be applying it forever, somewhere.
One thing to be worried about, in this coming war: the patience of the media class. Will it have it? I have confidence based on the evidence of history that Americans at large will have such patience; but one can be less sure about the media. Only a couple of weeks or was it days? into Afghanistan, the media were talking about quagmire and the Big Muddy: quagmire, quagmire, quagmire; muddy, muddy, muddy; Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam. And then, poof: Afghanistan was over (at least that stage of it).
But the quagmire people will be back, big-time, in Iraq. Theyre used to hundred-hour wars. If they dont get one if this war isnt wrapped up in one neat news cycle will they go all quagmire on us?
Everyones all atwitter about whether Israel will fight back whether it will respond, militarily, if Iraq, or some other nation, attacks its people. It is my belief that people dont understand the utilitarian the practical aspect of Israels concern.
It is not merely a psychological, emotional desire to hit back when you yourself are hit. Some analysts believe that the PLO and other enemies of Israel were emboldened when Israel holstered itself in the 1991 Gulf War. Did this suggest to others that Israel was something of a paper tiger, a softie? Israel was struck by 39 Iraqi missiles, and it sat there, nice and quiet, for GHWB and Jim Baker. Did some Israelis, later, pay for this restraint this season of non-responsiveness, or superhuman self-control with their lives?
That, sports fans, is a worry.
And speaking of responsiveness versus non-. The following line appeared in a USA Today article: Beyond reassurances on Iraq, Bush [was] expected [in his meeting with Ariel Sharon] to urge Israel to show restraint in trying to prevent, or retaliate for, Palestinian acts of terrorism.
That is asking an awful lot of a country: to show restraint in merely trying to prevent, much less retaliate for, the murder of ones citizens. In fact, that is too much.
Caught Chris Matthews the other night, talking with Christopher Hitchens, and would like to make a correction. Both of them said Matthews started it, and Hitchens agreed that Jeane Kirkpatricks invocation of San Francisco Democrats was an anti-gay slur.
Nothing of the sort. Remember: Kirkpatrick was a Democrat, serving in the Reagan administration, as ambassador to the U.N. She had fought long and hard to save the Democratic party from the New Left, particularly in foreign and defense policy. She was speaking at a Republican convention, in the summer of 1984. That must have been rather a hard thing for a lifelong, committed Democrat to do. She didnt want to knock the Democrats, tout court, because she was one, and she loved that party (or what was left of it, from her point of view).
The Democrats had had their convention in San Francisco. This convention, which nominated Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro, was dominated by exactly the kind of Democrats she lamented and despised. So, at the Republican convention, she spoke against the San Francisco Democrats those who had nominated Reagans opposition, weeks earlier.
It had nothing to do with gays. Its not her fault that the Democrats held their convention in San Francisco. If theyd had it in Dubuque, they would have been the Dubuque Democrats and youdve gotten a nice alliteration out of it.
Linda Chavez had this same problem when she ran against Barbara Mikulski two years later (for the Senate in Maryland). Chavez, too, was a Democrat, or had been, until a few seconds before this run. She campaigned as a true Democrat, if you will, which is to say an old-school Democrat a betrayed and abandoned Democrat not a radical one. Maryland was (as it is now) a staunchly Democratic state, and it would have made no sense to run against the Democrats. So she denominated her opponent a San Francisco Democrat, which she was and is (as is the senators whole party now, to be fair).
Chavez details all this in her fantastic new book, An Unlikely Conservative.
Again, its not their fault not Jeanes and Lindas that the Democrats held their 1984 convention in San Francisco. And yet, the Matthewsesque charge will always be held over their heads.
A word about the late Stephen Ambrose. Not long before he died, he was hit with charges of plagiarism charges that were true. And yet all plagiarisms are not equal. Ambrose was certainly a sloppy, careless old cuss, toward the end. But he was an unusual sort of plagiarist. He footnoted everything, even if he (or those assisting him) didnt put quotation marks around everything, and in one footnote he said something like, I have stolen shamelessly from Professor X, in his book . . . That is not the usual action of a plagiarist. A plagiarist moves with stealth, trickiness, deception.
When he was at his lowest, we published him in NR. The piece The Master (Nation) Builder might have been his last. I dont know.
Anyway, Im glad we did it.
By the way, in his last years, Ambrose was viewed as something of a conservative, because he was a patriot, but he had been a radical Democrat. I remember his boasting to a college seminar that he had heckled Richard Nixon over Cambodia. He said about his biographical subject, Nixon Im a Nixon-hater from way back.
Of course, a lot of conservatives are Nixon-haters too, and Im not sure that . . . whoa: Thats a whole nother subject. Later.
Youve got to hand it to terrorists, at least in this instance. Tony Blair decided to trust the IRA with peace and coalition government. The groups code name for him? The Naïve Idiot.
In an article concerning Jimmy Carters Nobel prize, the New York Timess Michael Wines wrote the following: Jimmy Carter won [the prize] for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts and, by the declaration of the prize panels chairman, for his labors as a critic of the Bush administrations pistols-cocked brand of geopolitics.
Pistols-cocked brand of geopolitics this was in a Times news column, mind you, not an editorial. But then, what, these days, is the difference?
As the Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial, the U.S. has just had a successful missile-defense test, involving a Navy Aegis destroyer. (Let us thank Bush one more time for withdrawing from the ABM treaty.) Concluded the Journal, The destroyer participating in Mondays test was the USS John Paul Jones, named after the Revolutionary War naval hero who famously said, I have not yet begun to fight. When it comes to deploying sea-based missile defenses, Mondays test shows that the U.S. has finally begun to fight.
Nice both the style, and the fact.
The story of the Japanese abductees in North Korea has the elements of a tragic and gripping novel. Listen to this, from a report by the Journals Sebastian Moffett: One abducted Japanese, Hitomi Soga, 43, is married to Charles Robert Jenkins, a U.S. serviceman who defected to North Korea in 1965. Amazing. What must that marriage be like? How did it come about? What did they say to each other? What are they saying now?
Another couple were dating when they were kidnapped by [North Korean] agents in 1978, thrust into sacks and taken to [the country] by ship. They married in North Korea.
Still another couple were already engaged when they were snatched from a seaside observation deck. They too were trussed up in sacks, and then taken to a spy-training facility in Pyongyang to instruct agents in Japanese.
And so on.
Incidentally, its typical of a Communist government not to allow family members to travel out of the country with those permitted to leave have to have some hostages, you know, to ensure the return of the departees. Castro does this reliably, on those rare occasions when he allows the few to skip his island for a day or two. But do our media notice or mind? Please.
Bill Kauffman had a nice review in the Journal of three books about the American Revolution. The review reminded me of something of a couple of things, actually. First, it used to puzzle me, as a boy, to read about the tyranny of George III. That tyranny seemed so . . . mild, in a century (my own) of genocide and other evil (well, I guess you cant get much more evil than genocide). Tyranny? Some bothersome taxes?
Also, isnt it amazing that Americans today will accept near-Swedenization, in light of the Friedmanite fighting faith of our fathers? From Kauffman: Americas hatred of being taxed was at the heart of the resistance, writes [Richard M.] Ketchum, who notes that these Liberty Boys drank an astonishing 28 toasts to the repeal of the Stamp Act the hated exaction that was hardly more onerous than the sales taxes we complaisant moderns pay every day.
Complaisant moderns. Very nice. Well, we have to attend to our daily lives we cant all be Howard Jarvis.
Kauffman concludes, Once independent, New York enacted punitive antiloyalist laws. The radical-dominated assembly stripped active loyalists of the vote and the right to hold office, but then, as patriots said with a smirk, they were merely giving the Tories what they had wanted in 1776: taxation without representation.
Finally, a marvelous note from a reader in Colorado Springs. I had written, in a previous Impromptus, that pundits, pols, and others were laying down markers concerning Iraq, gravely pointing out what could go wrong, so that they could be right, no matter what.
The reader informs us, I have been married for 52 years. Every time my wife and I drive anywhere she says to me, The car smells hot. I remind her that it is supposed to smell hot cold cars dont operate efficiently. One time about 30 years ago the car blew a radiator hose and overheated, and she said, See, I told you the car smelled hot. She should be in Congress.