Year: 2018

Home 2018
Project Fear
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Project Fear

Project Fear, the code name for the great anti-Brexit counter-offensive, is still under way but lost its attacking force some time ago. It now survives through a few tropes that have lost their rhetorical teeth, and their power to maul minds. Some instances: 1) Brexit as “crashing out.”  Cue: BBC clip of Formula One racing...

2020: Year of the Democrats? Maybe Not
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2020: Year of the Democrats? Maybe Not

If Democrats are optimistic as 2019 begins, it is understandable. Their victory on Nov. 6, adding 40 seats and taking control of the House of Representatives, was impressive. And with the party’s total vote far exceeding the GOP total, in places it became a rout. In the six New England states, Republicans no longer hold...

Christmas 2018: Not the Worst of Times
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Christmas 2018: Not the Worst of Times

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly,” goes the old Christmas carol. “‘Tis the season to be jolly.” Yet if there were a couplet less befitting the mood of this capital city, I am unaware of it. “The wheels are coming off,” was a common commentary on the Trump presidency on Sunday’s talk shows. And...

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Last Speech on the Floor of the House

December 21, 2018 Mr. Speaker: Too many of our leaders seem to want to be modern-day Winston Churchills and think of themselves as great war leaders. They are far too eager to go to war and far too willing to stay in a war after it is started. But the American people do not want...

Will Trump Hold Firm on Syrian Pullout?
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Will Trump Hold Firm on Syrian Pullout?

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there,” wrote President Donald Trump, as he ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria, stunning the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Trump overruled his secretaries of state and defense, and jolted this city and capitals across NATO Europe and the Middle East. Yet,...

Syria: Trump Must Not Blink
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Syria: Trump Must Not Blink

Over the next few weeks President Donald Trump will have to wage the toughest battle of his political career so far. He will be under intense political and bureaucratic pressure to change his mind on the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. Trump needs to resist that pressure both because the decision to withdraw is...

May’s Reprieve—And Brexit’s Future
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May’s Reprieve—And Brexit’s Future

The execution of Theresa May has been postponed sine die. It fell to Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Tory rebels (the European Research Group, ERG), to announce the stay of execution. Last week it seemed that she was heading for the firing squad. The 48 letters necessary to trigger a vote of No Confidence...

Baby, It’s Crazy Outside
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Baby, It’s Crazy Outside

As Cole Porter slyly reminds us: “In olden days a glimpse of stocking / Was looked on as something shocking / Now heaven knows / Anything goes. . . . “ Well, you know, depending on the state of Puritan politics at a given moment. The Puritan habit of scolding—and gazing sourly upon—others for improper...

Can America Fight Two Cold Wars at Once?
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Can America Fight Two Cold Wars at Once?

Kim Jong Un, angered by the newest U.S. sanctions, is warning that North Korea’s commitment to denuclearization could be imperiled and we could be headed for “exchanges of fire.” Iran, warns Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is testing ballistic missiles that are forbidden to them by the U.N. Security Council. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan...

Downfall—the Theresa May Story
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Downfall—the Theresa May Story

At this time our thoughts turn to Theresa May’s bunker, which we politely do not name Untergang but cannot put the word out of mind. The scenes from that film are etched on the mind: the soldiers and functionaries are as polite and dutiful as ever, but the Soviet artillery is now creeping up to...

What Lies Behind the Malaise of the West?
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What Lies Behind the Malaise of the West?

Is it coincidence or contagion, this malady that seems to have suddenly induced paralysis in the leading nations of the West? With lawyer-fixer Michael Cohen’s confession that he colluded with Donald Trump in making hush money payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, America’s stage is set for a play that will run two years....

George H.W. Bush: An honest obituary
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George H.W. Bush: An honest obituary

Praise, not precision, carries the day when a significant figure dies. But the eulogies extolling George H.W. Bush have so surpassed his performance that we run the risk of distorting historical reality. There is, no doubt, much to praise in the character of the forty-first president. George Bush served courageously in World War II. He...

The Tory Civil War Begins
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The Tory Civil War Begins

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” Within living memory there was once a Conservative Party. It was led by men who had received their M.C. (Eden, Macmillan) and a woman-warrior Brunhild out of Wagner, Margaret Thatcher. Aristocrats, not ermined placemen, were notable in the Party; I once heard the Marquess...

Faith of Our Fathers, Living Still
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Faith of Our Fathers, Living Still

On most Sundays and holy days, I happily attend what Pope Benedict XVI termed the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite and what is often called the Novus Ordo Mass. Last Saturday, though, I attended what Benedict XVI termed the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and what is often called the Latin Mass. The occasion...

How Democracy Is Losing the World
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How Democracy Is Losing the World

If Donald Trump told Michael Cohen to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels about a one-night stand a decade ago, that, says Jerome Nadler, incoming chair of House Judiciary, would be an “impeachable offense.” This tells you what social media, cable TV and the great herd of talking heads will be consumed with for the...

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Letter from Holland: The Kaiser in Exile

On a recent sunny afternoon—a wonderful rarity in Holland’s late fall—I visited Huis Doorn, the country manor 15 miles east of Utrecht where Kaiser Wilhelm II Hohenzollern spent just over two decades in exile before dying there in early June 1941. His lead coffin, draped in the Imperial flag, lies in the middle of a...

The Counterrevolution Against Globalism
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The Counterrevolution Against Globalism

On August 19, 1991, the people of the Soviet Union awoke to music from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake playing on national television. Swan Lake would play continuously that day as the “hard line” State Emergency Committee staged its coup against the first and last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, who had been arrested at his Crimea vacation...

Will Boris Johnson Be Prime Minister?
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Will Boris Johnson Be Prime Minister?

“Boris” is the only British politician universally known by his first name. He was Foreign Secretary, until he jumped ship from Theresa May’s Ship of Fools and is now on the Tory backbenches. Since May’s political life is passing peacefully to its close he is much talked of as a likely successor.  What are his...

Who Lost the World Bush 41 Left Behind?
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Who Lost the World Bush 41 Left Behind?

George H.W. Bush was America’s closer. Called in to pitch the final innings of the Cold War, Bush 41 presided masterfully over the fall of the Berlin Wall, the unification of Germany, the liberation of 100 million Eastern Europeans and the dissolution of the Soviet Union into 15 independent nations. History’s assignment complete, Bush 41...

Thornton Wilder’s Depression
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Thornton Wilder’s Depression

From the November 2011 issue of Chronicles. Thornton Wilder met Sigmund Freud in the fall of 1935.  Freud had read Wilder’s new novel, Heaven’s My Destination.  “‘No seeker after God,’” writes Wilder’s biographer (quoting Freud of himself), “he threw it across the room.”  At a later meeting Freud apologized.  He objected to Wilder’s “making religion...

CIA Senatorial Briefing: Is a Sudden Iran Crisis Likely?
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CIA Senatorial Briefing: Is a Sudden Iran Crisis Likely?

The reaction of top U.S. Senators from both parties to the briefing by CIA director Gina Haspel on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi has been unprecedented. A close ally of President Trump, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), announced that he had “high confidence” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the murder, describing the Saudi...

Will Paris Riots Scuttle Climate Accord?
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Will Paris Riots Scuttle Climate Accord?

In Katowice, Poland, all the signers of the 2015 Paris climate accord are gathered to assess how the world’s nations are meeting their goals to cut carbon emissions. Certainly, the communications strategy in the run-up was impressive. In October came that apocalyptic U.N. report warning that the world is warming faster than we thought and...

Sinclair Lewis
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Sinclair Lewis

From the August 1992 issue of Chronicles. Late in life, Harry Sinclair Lewis of Sauk Centre, Minnesota, figured something out: he would soon be forgotten. In a mock self-obituary, Lewis foresaw that he would leave “no literary descendants. . . . Whether this is a basic criticism of [Lewis’s] pretensions to power and originality, or...

Meet the Tiger
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Meet the Tiger

“When I was young and stupid,” said George W. Bush, and we have no reason to doubt him on it, “I was young and stupid.”  It is a double tautology.  He might as well have said, “When I was young,” and left it at that. When I was young, back around 1989, I believed that...

Butch Cassidy, Part 2
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Butch Cassidy, Part 2

A station agent tried to telegraph Price, Utah—the direction the outlaws were headed—but Butch Cassidy and Elzy Lay had cut the wires.  The paymaster had the train’s engine uncoupled.  Men grabbed a variety of weapons and jumped aboard.  The locomotive steamed down the narrow gorge of Price Canyon right past the unseen robbers, who were...

Out of Troy
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Out of Troy

Author of several novels and a memorable autobiographical work entitled Our Father’s Fields (1998), as well as a leading light of the Abbeville Institute, James Kibler has produced in the present work an indispensable study of the classical influence on Southern literature.  Other literary historians and critics of Southern letters have explored this territory; however,...

Using the N-word
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Using the N-word

At a raucous campaign rally in Houston, President Trump laid his ideological cards on the table for all to see.  If the Democrats take the House and/or the Senate, he told the crowd, they’ll carry out the agenda of “corrupt, power-hungry globalists.” “You know what a globalist is?  A globalist is a person that wants...

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Six Midterm Reflections

As the Midterm Election returns came in, one thing became clear: There would be no “blue wave.”  The Democrats secured the House of Representatives, though not by a wide margin, and the Republicans held the Senate, gaining a few seats.  The House Democrats and their GOP “NeverTrump” allies still skulking about the Beltway bubble will...

Obama’s Pope
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Obama’s Pope

Mr. Neumayr’s comprehensive and exhaustive work, a fine example of investigative journalism, should deeply worry Catholics, laity and clerics alike. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the first Latin-American pope in Catholicism’s centuries-long history.  He is also, Neumayr quips, “the Pope they have been waiting for,” whose messages support Marxists and Marxism, shockingly unlike the statements issued...

Lost Generations
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Lost Generations

“You are all a lost generation,” Gertrude Stein is said to have told Ernest Hemingway when he and his first wife were living in Paris after the Great War.  Since then, the generation that was born in the 1890’s and reached maturity to fight in the terrible conflict that came close to exterminating both it...

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The Boot-Licker

A fifth columnist is a supporter or secret sympathizer of an enemy nation, and the phrase was coined by Spanish nationalist general Emilio Mola.  Before World War II broke out in 1939, Europe was awash with references to “The Fifth Column at work,” and the phrase was bandied about by both appeasers and those who...

Blowing for Elkhart
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Blowing for Elkhart

Hobbled as I am by residual injury—I wear an ankle brace and limp a bit—and wheeling a large cornet/flugelhorn case, I was grateful when a man much younger than I held open a door for me as I entered the lobby for Elkhart’s Lerner Theatre.  I was there plenty early to play a concert set,...

The Undaunted
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The Undaunted

First Man Produced by Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, Isaac Klausner, and Damien Chazelle Directed by Damien Chazelle Screenplay by Josh Singer from the biography by James R. Hansen  Distributed by Universal Pictures  Black 47 Produced by Fastnet Films and the Irish Film Board  Directed by Lance Daly Screenplay by P. J. Dillon  Distributed by IFC...

All the World’s a Migrant Utopia
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All the World’s a Migrant Utopia

The writing is at long last on the wall for a world-famous migrant utopia that was founded in a tiny medieval town overlooking the Ionian Sea. It has been a con from start to finish. The little town of Riace in Calabria on the toe of Italy has been eulogized by the global left for...

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The Mightiest Midterm Win

As the Midterm Apocalypse was sliced and diced on the Day After, pundits noted the “Kavanaugh Effect,” whereby Senate Democrats who joined in the smear-and-delay campaign against then-nominee Brett Kavanaugh lost their bids for reelection in states that had supported President Trump in 2016.  On the other hand, Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, moistened...

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Books in Brief

A Mad Love: An Introduction to Opera, by Vivien Schweit-zer (New York: Basic Books; 288 pp., $27.00).  I need to be fair to this book, because the author, a concert pianist and writer who worked for a decade as a classical-music critic for the New York Times, certainly knows her stuff so far as opera...

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Quod Scripsi, Scripsi

Reader: I wasn’t quoting you.  I was characterizing your analysis as such. Me: You were mischaracterizing my analysis.  What I have written, I have written.  What you have written, I did not. Reader: Says you. Words have meaning.  We live our lives, for the most part, in a world in which, on a clear spring...

The Fable of the Glorious
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The Fable of the Glorious

British journalist Peter Hitchens is a great controversialist.  His most famous work remains his 1999 Abolition of Britain, which lamented the decline of Britain since the 1960’s, focusing particularly on the decay of morals and the rise of pop culture.  Since then Hitchens has written books critical of numerous aspects of modern British society including...

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Christmas in Sodom

How do you celebrate Christmas in Sodom? I know—it’s not a cheery thought.  And by posing the question, I run the risk of anachronism.  There were over four centuries between the time when Abraham pleaded on behalf of his favorite nephew’s adopted hometown and Moses’ accounting of it in Genesis.  And of course, Christmas was...

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Middle Eastern Blood and Dirt

For over three years Saudi Arabia has been fighting a war in Yemen with little regard for civilian suffering.  The war itself has been deadly for thousands of bystanders, but far worse has been the famine the conflict has brought about, which has killed some 50,000 people already and has the potential to kill millions. ...

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What the Editors Are Reading

Seeking relief from the midterm madness, I’ve been rereading H.L. Mencken’s political reportage and commentary, selections from which have been published in most Mencken anthologies.  Up to Franklin Roosevelt’s bid for a second presidential term, American politics was still enjoyable—bitter though many campaigns in the 19th century were, especially as the War Between the States...

Brazil’s Exceptional President
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Brazil’s Exceptional President

Jair Bolsonaro won the presidential election in Brazil on October 28 with 55 percent of the vote.  The former army captain triumphed over Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ Party pledging to fight crime and corruption, to end affirmative action for “disadvantaged minorities,” and to shatter the straitjacketed discourse on race and sexuality.  The leader...

Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music
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Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music

I had long been in search of a pretext for writing a column on sex, drugs, and classical music when I discovered that, by extraordinary coincidence, just such a subtitle adorned Blair Tindall’s memoir, Mozart in the Jungle (2005).  The televised series of the same name seemed also to feature much sex, drugs, and classical...

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Citizen Sunflower and America’s Future

Cancer imposes innumerable indignities on its victims.  In addition to possible death, the disease, its complications, and its treatment also force patients through the most inhumane gauntlet of our health-care system.  When you’re not giving a blood sample, you’re likely hooked up to an IV full of toxins or being zapped with near-lethal doses of...

Too Dangerous to Read
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Too Dangerous to Read

I offer a moral dilemma.  Are there books or fictional works so dangerous that they should not be taught in school or college, and that should as far as possible be kept from a general audience?  Some observers would apply this label to political tracts like Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, but however loathsome its content,...

Is Putin the Provocateur in the Kerch Crisis?
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Is Putin the Provocateur in the Kerch Crisis?

On departure for the G-20 gathering in Buenos Aires, President Donald Trump canceled his planned weekend meeting with Vladimir Putin, citing as his reason the Russian military’s seizure and holding of three Ukrainian ships and 24 sailors. But was Putin really the provocateur in Sunday’s naval clash outside Kerch Strait, the Black Sea gateway to...

Our Man in Riyadh
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Our Man in Riyadh

Abizaid of Arabia What does President Trump’s recent nomination of retired Army General John Abizaid to become the next U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia signify? Next to nothing—and arguably quite a lot. Abizaid’s proposed appointment is both a non-event and an opportunity not to be wasted. It means next to nothing in this sense: while...

Between Gibraltar and a Hard Place
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Between Gibraltar and a Hard Place

The crisis in British politics deepens. Everything changed Sunday, when the European Union, without further debate, approved the Withdrawal Agreement that is Theresa May’s work. That Agreement is now set in stone, with no further changes possible for the EU/UK. And the dynamics of politics are revolutionized. The Withdrawal Agreement has been greeted with dismay...

Trump’s Crucial Test at San Ysidro
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Trump’s Crucial Test at San Ysidro

Mass migration “lit the flame” of the right-wing populism that is burning up the Old Continent, she said. Europe must “get a handle on it.” “Europe must send a very clear message—’we are not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and support.'” Should Europe fail to toughen up, illegal migration will never...