Kevin D. Williamson writes: Applause was a serious business in the Soviet Union, as it is in Cuba, as it is in Venezuela, as it is in all unfree societies and at our own State of the Union address, which is modeled on the ex cathedra speeches of unfree societies. The less free you are, the more you are obliged to applaud. Joseph Stalin’s pronouncements were greeted with perfervid applause, which would continue, rapturously — no one dared stop — until Stalin himself would order its cessation.
“The desire to rule is complexly mixed up with the desire to be ruled, just as the most masterful among us bow the lowest and grovel the most enthusiastically when presented with a strongman-savior.”
But what to do when Stalin was not there? The mere mention of his name, even in his absence, would trigger fanatical applause, and nobody wanted to be the first to stop. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn related one famous story:
The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter.
Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel.
That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them.
That same night the factory director was arrested.
Stalin is long gone, and the Soviet Union, too, having been deposited, as Ronald Reagan predicted, onto the “ash heap of history.” But the craven instinct on display in the scene Solzhenitsyn described remains.
The desire to rule is complexly mixed up with the desire to be ruled, just as the most masterful among us bow the lowest and grovel the most enthusiastically when presented with a strongman-savior. There is something atavistic in us that is older than the human part — the inner chimp — that makes those who listen to its voice keenly aware of their places in the social hierarchy. Even a predator instinctively recognizes a predator higher up the food chain.
“The language there is interesting: She did not write that Price ‘did not applaud,’ ‘refrained from applauding’, or even ‘failed to applaud,” but that he refused to applaud, a formulation that converts passivity into a positive act, one from which we are to derive something of significance about his fitness for the role of secretary of health and human services.”
Which is not to say that National Public Radio’s Marilyn Geewax is a Stalinist, but rather that they were what she is, representatives of the same species.
Geewax, who is a senior business editor for NPR, is very interested in applause. This week, she expressed some concern that Representative Tom Price has been nominated to serve as the next secretary of health and human services. Read the rest of this entry »
Trump spoke with key figures at home and abroad over the phone after winning the U.S. presidential election. He was to meet President Barack Obama on Thursday to discuss a transition of power in preparation for his presidential term.
Abe talked to Trump over the phone for about 20 minutes on Thursday morning, according to a Japanese government official. The prime minister congratulated Trump on his presidential win, saying, “I’m sure the United States will become a greater country under the extraordinary leadership of incoming President Trump.”
Trump praised the achievements of Abe’s economic measures and said he is looking forward to working with Abe for the next few years.
Trump also said Japan and the United States have an outstanding partnership and that he wants to strengthen this special relationship further.
Abe proposed an early meeting, saying, “Peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, which is the center of global economic growth, is a source of U.S. strength. The strong Japan-U.S. alliance is indispensable to supporting peace and stability in the region.”
Trump accepted the offer and expressed his desire for forward-looking discussions between Japan and the United States.
They did not refer to issues such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal, which Trump opposes, and an increased burden on Japan to cover the costs for stationing U.S. forces. Read the rest of this entry »
Best of 9-11 Remembered: The Strange, Harrowing Journey of Air Force One, As Told by the People Who Were On BoardPosted: September 11, 2016
Nearly every American above a certain age remembers precisely where they were on September 11, 2001. But for a tiny handful of people, those memories touch American presidential history. Shortly after the attacks began, the most powerful man in the world, who had been informed of the World Trade Center explosions in a Florida classroom, was escorted to a runway and sent to the safest place his handlers could think of: the open sky.
For the next eight hours, with American airspace completely cleared of jets, a single blue-and-white Boeing 747, tail number 29000—filled with about 65 passengers, crew and press, and the 43rd president, George W. Bush, as well as 70 box lunches and 25 pounds of bananas—traversed the eastern United States. On board, President Bush and his aides argued about two competing interests—the need to return to Washington and reassure a nation and the competing need to protect the commander in chief.
All the while, he and his staff grappled with the aftermath of the worst attack on American soil in their lifetimes, making crucial decisions with only flickering information about the attacks unfolding below. Bush struggled even to contact his family and to reach Vice President Dick Cheney in the White House bunker.
The story of those remarkable hours—and the thoughts and emotions of those aboard—isolated eight miles above America, escorted by three F-16 fighters, flying just below the speed of sound, has never been comprehensively told. Read the rest of this entry »
“Refugees should stay where the hell they are. Hey, no one has worked harder for the human condition than I have, but they’re not part of the human condition. If 11 guys in the group of 10,000 are ISIS—how can I take that chance?”
Lewis then said that President Obama was “never prepared” for ISIS and suggested that he was not a real leader…
…The clip concludes with Lewis praising Trump for his “showmanship.”
“I think he’s great,” said Lewis of Trump. “He’s a showman and we’ve never had a showman in the president’s chair.”
“You can’t make do a comparison on Ronald Reagan because I can do three hours on him with just praise, he was so good.”
“Well, we had Ronald Reagan,” Arroyo interjected….(read more)
Once we take Hillary out of the equation, the game looks rather different. As potent as it might be on paper, the Democratic party’s present edge within the Electoral College is by no means infinite, and it does not obtain in a personality vacuum…
Charles C.W.Cooke writes: I’ll say it, happily: Democrats should be worried about Hillary Clinton, and moderately panicked about the immediate future of both their party and their cause.
This is not, of course, because Hillary’s latest scandale du jour is in any practical way going to “disqualify” her; and nor is it because leftward-leaning voters are likely to recall anything more from this rather awkward period in time than that the Clintons are as perennially sleazy as they ever were. Rather, it is because the last few days have underscored just how tenuous the Left’s grip on power and influence truly is in the waning days of the once-buoyant Obama era.
“The Democratic base that isn’t wedded to her is nervous about it. It makes her more vulnerable. What is this anointed candidate getting us?”
At present, Republicans control the House of Representatives, they lead the Senate, and they enjoy pole position within a vast majority of the states. The Democratic party, by contrast, has been all but wiped out, its great historical hope having relegated himself by his obstinacy to the role of MVP on a team of just a few. For the next couple of years, Obama will dig in where he can, blocking here, usurping there, and seeking to provide for the Left a source of energy and of authority. But then . . . what?
[preorder Charles C.W. Cooke’s new book “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future” from Amazon]
After last year’s midterm elections, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait contended grimly that the sheer scale of the Republican wave had rendered Hillary Clinton “the only thing standing between a Republican Party even more radical than George W. Bush’s version and unfettered control of American government.” The customary rhetorical hysterics to one side, this estimation appears to be sound.
On the surface, the knowledge that Clinton is ready to consolidate the gains of the Obama project should be a matter of considerable comfort to progressivism and its champions. Indeed, as it stands today, I’d still bet that Hillary will eventually make a somewhat formidable candidate, and that, despite her many, many flaws, she retains a better than 50 percent chance of winning the presidency in 2016.
“…A much more flawed candidate than we thought. And Republicans now have material they never thought they would have.”
— Deborah Arnie Arnesen, a progressive radio host in Concord, New Hampshire
In part, this is because she is a woman, yes, and because she will play ad nauseam upon this fact between now and November of next year; in part this is because she has been distressingly effective at selling herself as a moderate, and because her husband is remembered as a solid caretaker and remains popular across partisan lines; in part this is because the Democratic party is currently benefitting from a number of structural advantages that Republicans will struggle to overcome, whomever they choose to be their standard bearer; and in part this is because the economy will almost certainly be doing well enough by next year that the “Obama saved us all” narratives will seem plausible to a good number of voters. Read the rest of this entry »
New York Times Magazine forced to admit that Megyn Kelly might be great at her job
This piece from New York Times Magazine wouldn’t be all that remarkable were it not for who was writing it and who the subject was. It’s a rather rare moment when anyone from the elite enclaves of their Manhattan offices comes down to Earth and actually has something nice to say about any of the Fox News crew, and it’s a surprisingly candid and positive piece about evening desk host Megyn Kelly. But even for the honest appraisal, the author can’t seem to help acting surprised that Kelly actually takes people to task from both sides of the aisle in what he calls a “Megyn Moment.”
For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, a Megyn moment, as I have taken to calling it, is when you, a Fox guest — maybe a regular guest or even an official contributor — are pursuing a line of argument that seems perfectly congruent with the Fox worldview, only to have Kelly seize on some part of it and call it out as nonsense, maybe even turn it back on you. You don’t always know when, how or even if the Megyn moment will happen; Kelly’s political sensibility and choice of subjects are generally in keeping with that of the network at large.
But you always have to be ready for it, no matter who you are. Neither Karl Rove nor Dick Cheney have been spared their Megyn moments, nor will the growing field of 2016 presidential aspirants, who can look forward to two years of interrogation on “The Kelly File.” The Megyn moment has upended the popular notion of how a Fox News star is supposed to behave, and led to the spectacle of a Fox anchor winning praise from the very elites whose disdain Fox has always welcomed. In the process, Kelly’s program has not just given America’s top-rated news channel its biggest new hit in 13 years; it has demonstrated an appeal to the younger and (slightly) more ideologically diverse demographic Fox needs as it seeks to claim even more territory on the American journo-political landscape.
FLASHBACK: June 10, 2008: ‘Impeaching George W. Bush, president of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors’Posted: August 3, 2014
For RealClearPolitics, Carl M. Cannon writes: One disconcerting feature of modern liberalism is that so many Democrats consider it reasonable to judge the Republican Party by its most rhetorically untethered adherents: Sarah Palin, for one. Or Rush Limbaugh. Texas Congressman Steve Stockman is another example.
Those three have been trying to nudge their fellow conservatives in the direction of impeaching President Obama. This suicidal idea has been duly ignored by the Senate Republican leadership, the House leadership, and every potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate.
“The sponsors of the Bush impeachment bill were congressional liberals in good standing with the Democratic leadership in the House, and most of them are still there, including—yes, you guessed it—Sheila Jackson Lee.”
It has been rejected out of hand, really, by almost every prominent Republican in the country, including the never-shy Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Limbaugh is a famous talk radio provocateur; Palin a failed vice president candidate who resigned from Alaska’s governorship after less than one full term to cash in as an author and Fox News talking head. Stockman is a fringe character departing the House after losing a Republican senatorial primary in landslide. In other words, these are not people in positions of authority or responsibility within the Republican Party.
The actual officeholders and party professionals stoking impeachment talk are all Democrats. This is disquieting for several reasons. For starters, having White House officials and leading congressional Democrats claim with straight faces that impeachment is a serious threat is cynical and dishonest. Its purpose is to frighten liberals into donating money to Democrats, a tactic that is working. But it suggests a political party that is out of gas and out of ideas.
Speaking in Kansas City last week, Obama sounded more Valley Girl than presidential. “We could do so much more if Congress would just come on and help out a little bit,” he complained. “Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hating all the time.”
On Capitol Hill, Democrats deliberately conflated the loose talk of impeachment with the House Republicans’ pending lawsuit against Obama over a series of executive orders and administrative waivers regarding the Affordable Care Act. This, too, is a nasty little ploy: Impeachment is a right-wing fantasy. Going to court over the separation of powers disputes is a way to address constitutional disputes. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Weekly Standard, Mark Hemingway writes: Someone I’m related to by marriage has written a superb column on the problem of media ignorance. The fact I’m not a disinterested observer shouldn’t stop me from noting that the column and the event that prompted it has attracted some attention. The piece is pegged to a much discussed interview talk radio star Hugh Hewitt conducted with Zach Carter, the Huffington Post’s “senior political economy reporter.”
[Also see – Mollie Hemingway on Media Illiteracy]
Hewitt asked Carter why he was spouting off various critical opinions related to Dick Cheney and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Certainly, Carter’s not alone here — the rise of ISIS has had liberal journalists queuing up to insist President Obama bears minimal responsibility for the disintegration of the situation in Iraq. Joe Biden bet his vice presidency Iraq would extend the Status of Forces Agreement, and had they not failed, it might well have prevented the current mess. But here we are.
“The problem is ultimately not Carter’s ignorance. The problem is that we live in an environment where you can become a “senior political economy reporter” for a major news organization at age 28.”
Still, perhaps there are reasons to criticize Cheney and the invasion of Iraq, but the trouble was that Carter couldn’t articulate any of them substantively, and what’s more, Hewitt asked a series of questions establishing that Carter doesn’t even have an acceptable baseline of knowledge to spout off on the topic. Some of the questions, such as whether Carter has read specific books, might seem pedantic. Others seemed to be a pretty basic litmus test about knowledge of al Qaeda and the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »
Media Ignorance Is Becoming A Serious Problem
This reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld’s abstract musings on “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”. But then, Zach Carter—The Huffington Post‘s senior political economy reporter–would have to know who Donald Rumsfeld is.
Mollie Hemingway rocks. Read the whole thing here.
Last week, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt interviewed Zach Carter, who is The Huffington Post‘s senior political economy reporter. The interview’s purpose was to discuss Carter’s negative response to Hewitt’s previous interview of former Vice President Dick Cheney. The interview was lively and interesting but it did not go well for Carter, who was forced to admit his ignorance of the historical context of the situation in Iraq.
Looked at one way, the interview might almost seem like pointless point-scoring. In response to Hewitt’s questions, Carter admitted he didn’t know who Alger Hiss was and that he hadn’t read The Looming Tower. Those two questions are standard questions for Hewitt’s interviews.
…he was unaware that Bill Clinton had bombed Iraq in 1998…
But then Carter said he hadn’t read various other books, such as Bernard Lewis ’Crisis of Islam, Robin Wright’s Dreams and Shadows, or Thomas P. M. Barnett’s The Pentagon’s New Map. He said he hadn’t read Dexter Filkins’ The Forever War but that he’d “read a lot of the stuff that he’s written for The New Yorker.” Filkins joined The New Yorker in 2011. He said he does not read politician’s memoirs, including Cheney’s or George W. Bush’s. That he was unaware that Bill Clinton had bombed Iraq in 1998 or that Gadhafi had reportedly disarmed in 2003. He admitted he doesn’t know who A. Q. Khan, the father of the Pakistan bomb and godfather of Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, is.
“I give him credit for sticking through the entire interview.”
It’s such a display of ignorance that it seems almost unfair. But looked at another way, it’s simply a good interview where Hewitt seeks to establish Carter’s background and breadth of knowledge in order to help listeners know on what basis he critiqued Cheney.
“But it speaks to a larger problem we face with our media, which is that they frequently are not well read and, more importantly, they do not realize it.”
“He then asked the 31-year old Carter if he knew who Alger Hiss was. I’ve been on Hewitt’s show before—he can be a fantastic interviewer, especially of politicians—but this was unusual.”
Unusual? Call me old-fashioned, but let’s not pretend Alger Hiss was an “obscure” figure in American history, an unfair “gotcha” question to ask of a 31-year-old college graduate.
Alger Hiss was a high-ranking U.S. State Department official and Secretary-General of the United Nations founding conference. He was convicted of perjury in 1950 after denying involvement in Soviet espionage. Hiss partisans and many on the ideological left for many years hotly disputed the jury’s verdict in the case, putting forward a variety of conspiracy theories. The overwhelming consensus among historians today is that Hiss was guilty.
Note: If history had revealed Alger Hiss to be not guilty, every child in America would be subjected to endless Alger Hiss Day classroom assignments, “Alger Hiss Day” would be registered as a national holiday, and there would be a monument in Washington D.C. honoring his noble sacrifice.
Back to Mollie…
I don’t mean to pick on Carter, who was a good sport. If anything, I give him credit for sticking through the entire interview. But it speaks to a larger problem we face with our media, which is that they frequently are not well read and, more importantly, they do not realize it.
My favorite line was when Carter was asked if he’d heard of George Weigel and he replied, “I’ve heard of Dave Weigel.”
Note writer’s sleight of hand re Plame case: “someone inside” Bush admin outed her. “Someone” was Richard Armitage. http://t.co/C9nV6aS9s5
— Brit Hume (@brithume) May 27, 2014
POLITICO‘s Josh Gerstein reports: A federal judge delivered a severe tongue-lashing to a Justice Department lawyer Thursday, slamming the Obama Administration for its handling of demands for government records in the libel lawsuit fired Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod filed against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.
During a 40-minute hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon repeatedly ripped into the government and DOJ trial counsel David Glass for resisting requests from both sides in the case for government files and e-mails that might be of use in the litigation. At one point, the judge snapped at Glass, ordering him to “sit right down.”
Sherrod was forced to resign as a state rural development director for USDA in 2010 after Breitbart posted video clips online from a speech she gave earlier in the year at an NAACP event. The videos appeared to suggest that Sherrod was a racist. Within a matter of hours, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack dismissed her, acting in consultation with the White House.
How better to celebrate the anniversary of Andrew’s birth, Feb. 1st, than by rolling it into Feb. 2nd? Join me in celebrating the anniversary of Andrew’s last laugh:
“…Though the dinner took place on Super Bowl Sunday, Ayers and co. abruptly dismissed us before halftime, leaving our plan of attack only half realized, as we were attempting to ease into the evening like gentlemen and polite dinner guests…”
“…Ayers, in skullcap and earrings, shows us to an elaborate spread overlooking the city. We’ve entered a parody of a multimillion-dollar liberal lair…”
In 2012, Matt Labash recalls:
…Ayers, in skullcap and earrings, shows us to an elaborate spread overlooking the city. We’ve entered a parody of a multimillion-dollar liberal lair. Unidentifiable abstract sculptures snake about the floor. Framed epigrams from Louise Bourgeois installations (“The Hour Is Devoted To Revenge”) line the wall. Cutouts representing the duality of the American spirit, from Thoreau and Rosa Parks (good), to Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin (evil), festoon our plates. Tofu and quinoa—pinko food—is among the seven savory courses served.
“This is the bomb, Bill,” Breitbart said to the former explosives-rigger…”
Apart from shuffling off to the kitchen or catching a few minutes of the game while avoiding awkward conversations about their past, the Weather-hosts couldn’t be nicer. They ask us about our backgrounds, which they already seem familiar with (thanks, Wikipedia!). They plump us with falling-off-the-bone hoisin ribs and fluff us with apple pie and Ameri-Cone Dream ice cream. “This is the bomb, Bill,” says Breitbart, after sampling the farmhouse cheeses. “It has explosive flavor,” I chime in…”
In a separate remembrance, Matt Labash writes:
“…Our friend, Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson, had won the Ayers dinner at an Illinois Humanities Council auction, and had brought us along. Tucker and I were a little worried that we had in our possession a human grenade in Breitbart, though if we were being honest with ourselves, that’s precisely why we brought him. With Andrew, every day was anything-can-happen day.
As it happened, Breitbart was on his best behavior. “I’m here to learn,” Andrew said facetiously. It was part of the pleasure of keeping company with him. He wasn’t just a friend, he was a co-conspirator. Once we arrived at the apartment, much to Andrew’s and Ayers’s chagrin, they got along famously. Just two guys having dinner, finding commonality, even if Andrew regarded it his hidebound duty to passive-aggressively heckle Ayers as he served us plates of hoisin ribs and farmhouse cheeses. (“This is the bomb, Bill,” Breitbart said to the former explosives-rigger.)
Why we shouldn’t care that the world’s most irresponsible country is displeased at the U.S.
Fareed Zakaria writes: America’s middle east policies are failing, we are told, and the best evidence is that Saudi Arabia is furious. Dick Cheney, John McCain and Lindsey Graham have all sounded the alarm about Riyadh’s recent rejection of a seat on the U.N. Security Council. But whatever one thinks of the Obama Administration’s handling of the region, surely the last measure of American foreign policy should be how it is received by the House of Saud.
If there were a prize for Most Irresponsible Foreign Policy it would surely be awarded to Saudi Arabia. It is the nation most responsible for the rise of Islamic radicalism and militancy around the world. Over the past four decades, the kingdom’s immense oil wealth has been used to underwrite the export of an extreme, intolerant and violent version of Islam preached by its Wahhabi clerics. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted By Stephen Green On September 10, 2013
I’m the guy who invented live drunkblogging of political events, so far as I know, sometime in 2003 if memory serves. It happened quite accidentally because Andrew Sullivan had posted a State of the Union drinking game, where if Bush says this you take a shot, or if Congress stands up you take a shot, or if Cheney has a heart attack you take two shots. And I read the rules and I thought they were cute and all, but something dawned on me. I’d been watching SOTU addresses for 20-plus years, and if I were going to make it through another one, then screw playing games — just pour me a drink and keep them coming. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jim Geraghty
Being nicer to countries like Russia will not make them nicer to you. The United Nations is not an effective tool for resolving crises. Some foreign leaders are beyond persuasion and diplomacy.
There is no “international community” ready to work together to solve problems, and there probably never will be.
You can pin this on Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Susan Rice, but most of all, the buck stops with the president. Those of us who scoffed a bit at a state senator ascending to the presidency within four years on a wave of media hype and adoration are not quite so shocked by this current mess. We never bought into this notion that getting greater cooperation from our allies, and less hostility from our enemies, was just a matter of giving this crew the wheel and letting them practice, as Hillary Clinton arrogantly declared it, “smart power.” (These people can’t even label a foreign-policy approach without reminding us of how highly they think of themselves.) They looked out at the world at the end of the Bush years, and didn’t see tough decisions, unsolvable problems, unstable institutions, restless populations, technology enabling the impulse to destabilize existing institutions, evil men hungry for more power, and difficult trade-offs. No, our problems and challengers were just a matter of the previous hands running U.S. foreign policy not beingsmart enough.