Year: 2018

Home 2018
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Blessed Division

According to a poll conducted in the late summer of 2017, 56 percent of respondents agreed that President Trump was “tearing the country apart.” We consistently read reports and see on the news the accusation that Trump, and others, are being “divisive” when what we really need is “unity.” We are repeatedly told we need...

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A US-Turkish Clash in Syria?

The war for dominance in the Middle East, following the crushing of ISIS, appears about to commence in Syria—with NATO allies America and Turkey on opposing sides. Turkey is moving armor and troops south to Syria’s border enclave of Afrin, occupied by Kurds, to drive them out, and then drive the Syrian Kurds out of...

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Trump Sinks a ‘Sweet Hole’ on DACA

Letter from Pergamum-on-the-Potomac It’s just incredible what a hullabaloo can erupt from the garbled account of just one spoken word. All week long the national media and political class have been in a tizzy over what Donald Trump was reported to have said in a closed-door White House meeting with Senators over DACA and immigration...

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Cherished Void

From the July 1995 issue of Chronicles. Gene Roddenberry was a hustling ex-cop who wanted to strike it rich in television, and he did, with a series called Star Trek, which he once described (before his slide into self-mythicizing and lucrative licensing deals) as “Wagon Train To the Stars.” His public image has heretofore been...

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Trump: In Immigration Debate, Race Matters

President Trump “said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist. . . . I cannot believe . . . any president has ever spoken the words that I . . . heard our president speak yesterday.” So wailed Sen. Dick Durbin after departing the White House. And what caused the minority leader to almost faint...

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Letter from Germany (II): The Duopoly Is Back

You can read Letter from Germany, Part I here. This past week has been unseasonably lovely in southern Germany, with crystal blue skies and the temperature in the fifties. I was enjoying the view of the Alps from the southern wing of Neuschwannstein, the famous fairytale castle built by Wagner’s mad friend King Ludwig, when...

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Trump, the Deplorables, and the Aforementioned “Sh-thole”

The U.S. media are stoking the coalfires of populist nationalism with their breathless coverage of President Trump’s private and undoubtedly unwise comment that Haiti is a “sh-thole country.” The President denies using that specific language, but owns up to the substance of the comment. The New York Times has declared that Trump’s reported comment is...

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Little Rocket Man Wins the Round

After a year in which he tested a hydrogen bomb and an ICBM, threatened to destroy the United States, and called President Trump “a dotard,” Kim Jong Un, at the gracious invitation of the president of South Korea, will be sending a skating team to the “Peace Olympics.” An impressive year for Little Rocket Man....

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Special Ops at War

From Afghanistan to Somalia, Special Ops Achieves Less with More At around 11 o’clock that night, four Lockheed MC-130 Combat Talons, turboprop Special Operations aircraft, were flying through a moonless sky from Pakistani into Afghan airspace. On board were 199 Army Rangers with orders to seize an airstrip. One hundred miles to the northeast, Chinook...

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What Is America’s Mission Now?

Informing Iran, “The U.S. is watching what you do,” Amb. Nikki Haley called an emergency meeting Friday of the Security Council regarding the riots in Iran. The session left her and us looking ridiculous. France’s ambassador tutored Haley that how nations deal with internal disorders is not the council’s concern. Russia’s ambassador suggested the United...

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Gone to Pot

From the December 2016 issue of Chronicles. It is seven o’clock on a peaceful late-summer evening here in suburban Seattle, and I’m sitting in my back garden smoking marijuana. Passively smoking, I should add, lest I shock any reader by this sorry lapse, but smoking nonetheless.  This time of year, my property is especially fragrant...

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Fire Bell in the Night for the Ayatollah

As tens of thousands marched in the streets of Tehran on Wednesday in support of the regime, the head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps assured Iranians the “sedition” had been defeated. Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari is whistling past the graveyard. The protests that broke out a week ago and spread and became riots are...

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Sophistory

From the September 2015 issue of Chronicles. Two thousand fifteen was the year that we Americans broke history.  By “breaking history,” I do not mean something like “breaking news,” or “breaking records,” or even “breaking the Internet” (though the Internet certainly played a role).  Yes, the “historic moments” of the Summer of #LoveWins and #HateLoses—the...

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The Times Rides to Mueller’s Rescue

What caused the FBI to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016, which evolved into the criminal investigation that is said today to imperil the Trump presidency? As James Comey’s FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller have, for 18 months, failed to prove Donald Trump’s “collusion” with the Kremlin, what was...

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Letter from Germany: Westphalia in Winter

The North German Plain is not an exciting place. It lacks the charm of the Palatinate, the fairytale quality of the Middle Rhineland, or the drama of the Bavarian Alps. It is peopled by staid burghers who are hard-working, practical, and (in contrast to the Oberpfälzers, say) rather quiet. It rains a lot, and now...

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Throw in the Towel

If you thought comedy was dead, take a look at the newest Napoleon on the block, the one wearing sandals on his feet and a tablecloth on his head, and striking an heroic pose with his hairy legs wrapped around a camel’s hump.  This ludicrous figure resides in Riyadh and is fawned over by people...

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We Will Fight Like Lions

A few years ago, a respected Chronicles editor disagreed with my judgment on the behavior of a deceased Trappist abbot who had repeatedly bowed down in a mosque to the god of the unhappy Saracens in order to chum it up with his Mohammedan neighbors.  I wrote that this constituted apostasy, and he wrote back...

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Blame Us!

Only the most delusional limey would deny that, when it comes to popular culture, Britain is downstream from America.  In politics, too, we follow your lead.  Tony Blair pursued Bill Clinton’s middle way; David Cameron adopted George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism—although Tories won’t readily admit that.  A whole generation of British politicians grew up watching...

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Prince of Darkness

As the calendar rolls over to 2018, we need to take stock of where we are as Americans, noting the dangers that lie ahead.  Those dangers involve politics, culture, economics, foreign policy, and religion, as well as our capacity as postmodern people for thinking in terms of unchanging moral truths and applying them.  For there...

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The Job of Sex

The lares and penates of post-Christian (actually postpagan) America are Money, Sex, and Power, not necessarily in that order but rather according to individual taste and proclivity.  Our household gods are grinning and chuckling malevolently from the hearth as they behold the carnival of sexual scandal and hypocrisy that has been unfolding across the land...

What the Editors Are Reading
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What the Editors Are Reading

Alexandre Dumas, born the grandson of a French nobleman and an African slave in Saint-Domingue (today Haiti) in 1802 and son of one of Napoleon’s officers in Italy and Egypt, accomplished a prodigious amount of work in his 68 years.  So far as I know he never wrote a book of less than nearly a...

Book in Brief
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Book in Brief

The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering the Story of an Early American Crisis, by James E. Lewis, Jr. (Princeton University Press; 728 pp., $35.00).  This well-written and readable book considers the political and social context of the so-called Burr Conspiracy (1805-06), in which Jefferson’s former Vice President Aaron Burr was rumored to have plotted to enlist conspirators...

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Cultural Notes, in Two Keys

The liberal print media, like all things liberal, are never more themselves than when searching out, discovering, and deploring violence in America—gun violence, police violence, violence against women, violence against children, violence against racial and ethnic minorities, violence against immigrants, violence against Muslims, violence against homosexuals and “transgender people,” violence against foreign countries and cultures,...

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An Age of Indoor Cats

Cats, I’ve sometimes been told, make better pets than dogs, because cats are more independent, which is just another way of saying that dogs have been domesticated for so many thousands of years, they are genetically the kinds of creatures that find their fulfillment in loving and serving man, while cats are not.  I love...

Mission Accomplished
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Mission Accomplished

Gary Sheffield is an old hand at writing the history of World War I.  In addition to being a professor of war studies at the University of Wolverhampton, he was co-editor of Douglas Haig: War Diaries and Letters, 1914-18.  It is obvious that he wishes to set not just the United Kingdom but the whole...

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Orbán: Building the Wall

“What’s past is prologue.” —Shakespeare, The Tempest Situated between Austria and Rumania, Hungary has a rich history worthy of many books.  And though this country of less than ten million people is the size of the state of Maine, her role on the world stage is only increasing.  She has declared war on billionaire deconstructionist...

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Politicians #NeverLearn

Donald Trump’s first year as President is drawing to a close, and it’s been rough.  The Republican Congress proved unequal to the task of repealing Obama Care.  The border wall hasn’t been built.  The administration is packed with generals and hawkish ideologues who push the President toward foreign intervention.  A special prosecutor stalks the land,...

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Trump’s First Year

A key source of volatility in today’s international system is the propensity of the U.S. government to reject any conventionally ordered hierarchy of American global interests.  Washington’s deterritorialized policy of full-spectrum dominance is based on ideological suppositions that are unreceptive to rational debate.  America’s “global engagement” constantly creates results—notably in Iraq and Libya—that run counter...

Get Big or Get Out
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Get Big or Get Out

Most people think of E.F. Schumacher today (to the extent that they think of him at all) as some sort of vaguely leftist harbinger of the environmentalist movement.  His most famous work, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, is often reduced to “Buddhist Economics,” the title of one of the essays collected therein. ...

Afghanistan’s Depraved Opportunism
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Afghanistan’s Depraved Opportunism

In “Staying the Course in Afghanistan: How to Fight the Longest War,” published in the November/December 2017 Foreign Affairs, retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and one Kosh Sadat, both employed by the eponymous McChrystal Group, argue for the United States to pursue more war in Afghanistan.  Apparently, 16 years of American aggression there hasn’t been...

What’s Sweet and Proper
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What’s Sweet and Proper

Stage play premiered June 9, 2017, the Sheen Center, New York City • Producer: Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., Blackfriars Repertory Theatre • Director: Peter Dobbins, Storm Theatre Company • Assistant Director: Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P. • Choreographer: Jennifer Delac • Cast: Nicholas Carrière (Sassoon), Sarah Naughton (Death), Michael Raver (Owen) Joseph Pearce has...

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Cold War Comfort

To say I was a difficult child is something of an understatement: I was a wild child.  In retrospect, I can only feel sorry for my poor parents, who had no idea what to do with me.  I was simply unmanageable.  Unwilling to sit still in class, or to obey the simplest instructions, I did...

My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night!
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My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night!

History is rewritten, memory is transformed, recognition is withdrawn, and the cultural context is recast.  The recent toppling of historical statues has proceeded so effectively that we can hardly remember a previous period of statue erection or insertion in Richmond, Virginia.  The former capital of the Confederacy had to be punished for its Monument Avenue,...

John di Martino
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John di Martino

In the early days of his career in 1982, jazz pianist John di Martino was a member of the house trio accompanying such internationally famous vocalists as Billy Daniels and Keely Smith at Steve’s Lounge and Elaine’s Lounge, two of the show rooms at Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.  He also played electric...

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Obama’s Manufacturing Bust

Barack H. Obama left office as the first Democratic president to preside over a net loss of domestic manufacturing jobs since the U.S. government started compiling records in the late 1930’s.  There were 206,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in January 2017 (12,355,000) than in January 2009 (12,561,000) when Obama entered the White House, according to U.S....

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The Weight of the Past

Thor: Ragnarok Produced by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures Directed by Taika Waititi  Screenplay by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost Distributed by Walt Disney Studios  The Killing of a Sacred Deer Produced and Distributed by A24  Written and Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos  Mudbound Produced by Armory Films Directed by Dee Rees  Screenplay...

Fire in the Minds of Men
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Fire in the Minds of Men

Recently, we marked the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, an event sparked by the revolutionary fire in the minds of men that has burned for as long as there have been men on the earth.  In the modern era, revolution ignited in France in the 18th century.  It caught fire again in 1848,...

How to Live
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How to Live

In her Preface to this collection, Catharine Savage Brosman tells the reader that these essays are of three kinds: recollections of her own life and family, commentaries on literature, and examinations of the current state of American culture.  Taken together, her essays, Brosman says, are “an exercise in seeing the world, even feeling it, and...

Trump, NAFTA, and America First
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Trump, NAFTA, and America First

President Donald Trump has made the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) a cornerstone of his economic policy.  Signed into law by Democrat Bill Clinton in 1993 with Republican support, NAFTA created a managed trade zone among Canada, Mexico, and the United States.  The multilateral agreement remains highly controversial among blue-collar voters...