David Rodeback's Blog
Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Saturday, January 6, 2007
This Week's Excellent Readings
An old year, a new year, a dead tyrant, a president's funeral, Peggy Noonan, and some really good stuff on other topics, large and small . . .
Favorites: Peggy Noonan
(Because she's Peggy Noonan. Isn't that reason enough?) Here Peggy Noonan writes of the meanings and uses of ceremony -- New Year's Eve, a state funeral, whatever.
Favorites: Year in Review
As a lover of language and the recipient of more education than I will ever be able to use to earn a buck, I'm with Paul Greenberg -- not that that's unusual -- when he suggests that the world needs more Sarah Pricketts. (Blog readers who edit for a living, you'll probably like this one.) You figure out why I put it under the heading, "Year in Review."
Ross Mackenzie's review of 2006, with its look ahead, too, is insightful. Don't miss the good Samuel Johnson quotation at the beginning and the great Edmund Burke quotation at the end.
I like Harry R. Jackson's New Year's resolution. It's important. It's overdue. And he makes it personal.
Dave Barry's review of the year always a hoot. This year it features recurring cameos by Bode Miller and Nancy Pelosi.
Heavy on the war, but touching other topics, Mark Steyn's column looks both forward and back.
Debra J. Saunders rings out some old bromides.
Favorites: The Tyrant Is Dead
My favorite statement on Saddam Hussein's death so far is Paul Greenberg's. Here is an excerpt:
Before we finally bury Saddam Hussein, so to speak, let's review his credentials and performance as an evil dictator. Niall Ferguson finds him a pale reflection of his (Saddam's) hero, Stalin, and has some pointed thoughts about how the US helped him (Saddam) become what he became. (Neither President Bush fares well here, but it's not the vapid, knee-jerk Bush-bashing of the Left, either.)
In Christopher Hitchens' essay, again, we see some of the thoughts the Left has lately trumpeted (in their preferred strident, Bush-is-a-pseudonym-for-Satan manner) -- but discussed intelligently, instead. Were there serious flaws in Saddam's trial? Would it have been better to let him rot in prison for the rest of his natural life? Serious thought without the name-calling.
Favorites: Everything Else
Mark Bowden's very intelligent look at deep-seated hatreds and nation-building deserves thought, not just a quick reading.
Victor Davis Hanson evaluates the difficulties and the possibilities in Iraq. Very good article.
In an excellent continuation of his "dangerous obsession" series, Thomas Sowell explains who determines the value of a thing (such as labor). He asks:
Michael Barone praises President Gerald R. Ford.
George Will explains that a minimum wage is really unnecessary (economically, that is). In the process, he writes:
Ross Mackenzie has a good collection of quotations. (I particularly like the ones from Abraham Lincoln, Barry Goldwater, and T. S. Eliot.)
See also Favorites above.
Suddenly, Ethiopia is our successful friend and exemplar in the war on Islamic Fascism.
John Podhoretz writes of a pending change in Pentagon leadership and, not coincidentally, of President Bush's apparent repudiation of the CESM report and recommendations in favor of -- get this -- actual victory.
Jack Kelly discusses some disturbing questions about the FBI's competence in the last several years.
Jeff Emanuel offers an obituary of sorts about Saddam Hussein. Don't miss the body count. It's important. And there are a lot of zeroes in it.
Austin Bay says a trial based on law and evidence, followed by a noose, is not how tyrants expect to die.
Is a "surge" the thing? Robert Novak writes.
Michael Medved muses on a familiar tune, on Scottish nationalism, and on the comparative weakness of Palestinian nationalist claims.
Jeff Jacoby notes that Human Rights Watch can't tell the moral difference between Saddam Hussein's countless murders and the execution of the murderer.
Charles Krauthammer writes of the unfortunate botching of Saddam's trial and execution. He writes reasonably, from a rule-of-law viewpoint, not the Left's mantra that the death penalty is worse than the crime. Here is an excerpt, with one example:
President Bush writes of things needing to be done in the next two years, and of cooperation between the White House and the new Congress. Among other things, he promises a revised Iraq strategy soon.
This time, writes George Will, the news for freedom of political speech in the United States is good.
Ashlea Ebeling tells a story of what good lobbying will get you in Washington.
Roderick M. Hills explains that President Ford had a lot to do with economic deregulation, though he rarely gets much credit for it.
John Stossel reports that it is now illegal for most churchgoers to feed the homeless in Fairfax County, Virginia. (What will those clever bureaucrats think of next?) Homeless philosopher James understands this, I suppose.
Walter Williams compares the Super Bowl and politics in this discussion of the importance of rules.
Kathleen Parker doesn't seem especially impressed that John Edwards is running for president (or that he is reportedly the son of a millworker).
Rich Lowry has some good thoughts about taking the long view in policy decisions -- not just taking a poll. Gerald Ford is mentioned.
Dick Morris wonders if a new era of relative moderation is emerging in national politics.
David Hill has an interesting insight into the possibilities of a Rudy Giuliani presidential campaign.
A test is coming soon for those newly-elected Democrats who told the voters they were pro-life, writes Robert Novak.
Barack Obama writes of reforming Congress' rules to minimize both corruption and the appearance of corruption. (Will he put his money where his mouth is?)
Linda Chavez is not terribly impressed or worried by the Democrats' 100-hour agenda.
Around the World
Jeff Jacoby notes a grim anniversary and wonders what ultimately will determine Fidel Castro's legacy. (Castro reportedly is near death -- still or again, I've lost track.) Will it be the cheerleaders or the body count and other wreckage?
Kathleen Parker writes of "the [modern] voyeurism that passeth all understanding."
If your New Year's resolution is to be a full-blown narcissist, Doug Giles can tell you how. Here are some excerpts to help you get into the spirit of it:
James J. Kilpatrick's Court of Peeves -- linguistic peeves, that is -- is now in session.
Dr. Elizabeth Cantor looks at the record as she wonders, Is it the Christians who are intolerant and otherwise on the rampage? (You guessed it: Not so much.)
Suzanne Fields speaks of happiness, in a somewhat different way than usual.
In the wake of Saddam Hussein's execution, Wesley Pruden has some very contemporary insights on the general subject of the death penalty in the twenty-first century.
Here's a statistical pattern that may not surprise you: there is a positive statistical correlation between being conservative and giving generously to charity. Jonah Goldberg explains. Apparently, it has a lot to do with how much you trust government.
Is decency making a comeback in Hollywood's work product? Suzanne Fields has some hopeful notes.
Burt Prelutsky suggests that Earth is the galaxy's loony bin . . .
. . . And Mona Charen suggests that it may actually be college campuses. Actually, she's talking about some new, politically incorrect research on the physical and emotional damage sexual promiscuity can cause.
Gene Weingarten offers a collection of women's responses to a certain recent Christopher Hitchens article about why (or was it how?) women can't be funny, as men can. (I read the Hitchens article but declined to recommend it. Hitchens is often intelligent and perceptive, but I'm not sure this was one of those times, and, even if it was, it just wasn't worth it. Just reading these responses will give you enough of an idea of how the article went.) Be advised: some of the responses are, shall we say, rated PG, mostly for scattered anatomical humor and sexual inuendo. (The Hitchens article was a hard PG-13 or soft R.) Christine Lavin's new verse for a song, linked to here, is worth hearing. Hmm. Turns out women can be funny after all.
Tired of ugly? Greg Crosby has a purely escapist antidote. His top ten list of old movies is a lot longer than ten, actually. Good thing, too. We were past ten before we got to one I have seen.
Betsy Hart wants to reverse the decline in friendship this year.
I could have told you junior high school was hell. Now the Rand Corporation is telling you, and junior highs and middle schools are biting the dust in some big districts, writes Maggie Gallagher.
I don't share Burt Prelutsky's hostility to academia -- in my graduate program in Russian Literature I did a lot more than just sit around reading novels, which, by the way, I absolutely love to do -- but he has some good points, including this one:
Sean P. Means writes that it was a big year for the cinematic arts in Utah.
Paul Foy writes of Utah's economy, labor shortage, and other related themes.
American Fork and Thereabouts
A new movie, entitled American Fork, premiers this month at the SlamDance Film Festival. According to the Festival, it's about "the life and times of Tracy Orbison, a grocery clerk with the mind of a dreamer, the soul of a poet and the body of a really fat man."
Alan Choate reports that those folks we elected in Utah County last year have now taken office.
Copyright 2007 by David Rodeback.