The Spine

Talk About Eating Crow
October 16, 2006

Robert Mugabe was in power in Zimbabwe already when I visited in 1985. Wherever and whenever we met locals, they would put on a radio (and put it on loud) to keep the political police from hearing our conversations. Not that we were planning anything. Nor was the country in disaster yet. But the skeptical citizenry, black and white, felt that government was inclined to be dictatorial, paranoid, cruel, and intent on what it blithely called land reform. Land reform meant taking productive farms away from whites. I understand the revolutionary impulse.

Chirac's Penny Imperialism
October 16, 2006

The Associated Press reported this morning that France's President Chirac offered to host an international conference in Paris for potential donor countries to Lebanon's long-term reconstruction. Well. France always promises ... and it also disappoints. Like its pledge to send a large contingent to the UNIFIL deployment in southern Lebanon. It sent. But it did not send nearly the number of armed personnel it said it would. And these personnel are not engaged in the chores that were warranted to do during the cease-fire discussions at the Security Council.

The Great Black Hope
October 15, 2006

I don't really know Representative Harold Ford Jr., who is the Democratic candidate for the seat now held by retiring Bill Frist. But I've met Ford, and friends of mine in Tennessee admire him. National Review's Rich Lowry grasps that he is one smart politician. Moreover, he's actually close to his constituents. He is a churched man, and national defense is not a matter that he hopes won't come up in questions. Doubtless, as Lowry concedes, Ford is handicapped since his state hasn't elected a black man to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction.

Lost In Translation
October 15, 2006

Why should anybody care what I think about the Latin Mass? But I have cared about it ever since a sometime hero of mine, John XXIII, tried to silence it in the early sixties. The attack, beginning in those days, on the canon was not, after all, limited to the secular canon. In religion, the communion of the faithful with each other and with what they call God has much to do with a long past and the mystery called "the great chain of being." The intellectual historian A.O. Lovejoy wrote a sublime history of the idea.

Carter's Haughty Take On Korea
October 14, 2006

Apparently, Daniel Mandel posts his own blog, and he e-mailed one of them to me Friday afternoon. Maybe he too was struck by how haughty Jimmy Carter was in his op-ed piece in Wednesday's New York Times on how easy it would be to deal with North Korea. Well, here is Carter's "all roses" interview with CNN in 1994. I don't know whether he is better at nut farming than at carpentry. But he surely shouldn't be giving advice on foreign policy--and, more important, I hope that nobody takes it.

Deval Patrick's Mcmansion
October 12, 2006

I confess: My form of pornography is houses. The first pages I look at in the Sunday Times are the exclusive apartments and country estates section in the back of the Magazine. The first feature I look at in Friday's Wall Street Journal is the real estate pages highlighting domiciles in venues I'd never go to, let alone live in. If I'm driving around the Berkshires or upstate New York or Santa Barbara, I always pick up those brochures full of houses, mansions, condos, ranches, raw land, et cetera. So I do understand the romance of property.

A Triumph For Hezbollah
October 12, 2006

The fact is that nobody really paid much attention to the details of the Lebanese cease-fire, not even the Israelis (this is another grievance the public has with the Olmert government, and a just grievance it is), and not the Americans (certainly not Condi Rice). Hezbollah did not really need to scrutinize the terms of the agreement since it never had any attention of adhering to them in the first place. In any case, it was not among the negotiating parties, since that would have undercut the authority of the Lebanese government, which, alas, hardly exists.

Taxi Backlash
October 12, 2006

Will the Twin Cities Muslim taxi-drivers out of Minneapolis-St.Paul airport have their way or not? Go to this article and see if you can figure it out. The authorities have cancelled the plan to have cabbies who won't carry passengers with alcohol (on their breath? in their luggage?) put a light on top of their ferrying vehicles that would mean "no." But, as the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, quoting an airport spokesman, "The backlash, frankly, has been overwhelming." Still, some Muslim drivers say they still won't take fares that put them in the presence of booze.

Property Value
October 12, 2006

And, while we're on to expensive houses ... This one belongs to Abu Hamza, the former imam of the Finsbury Park mosque, where all kinds of fanatics and even terrorists congregate. Hamza is on trial for "incitement to murder." He bought a house for roughly $800,000 in cash and leased it out. Meanwhile he is "penniless," and his wife and seven children live in a welfare council house valued at nearly $1.2 million. Look at Tuesday's London Daily Telegraph. How these truly disloyal and fanatical people must laugh at Western societies.

Questionable Motives
October 12, 2006

Have you noticed that, since George Soros and his pals have been spending some of their cash to save America, the Democrats have lost interest in the wicked role of big money in our politics? Now, let me concede a point from the start: Soros did a lot to build up the infrastructure of freedom in communist Eastern Europe, and after. That alone may get him past the gates of heaven. But, frankly, he's been quite goofy about other matters. And, since the press rarely probes the minds of zillionaires, his every thought is treated like heavy thought.