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Obama in Afghanistan

  Addressing the nation on Tuesday from Bagram Air Base, President Barack Obama declared the advent of a new, post-war era in the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan. During his six-hour unannounced visit Obama signed an agreement with President Hamid Karzai that is supposed to define the role of the U.S. after the...

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The Perils of Greatness

  The thing about Lyndon Johnson—and you may be sure I kept a close adolescent eye on him while he was one of my two U.S. senators—was that he knew what he was doing. There was more to it even than that. He knew how to get things done. The faint breezes from the ’50s...

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Poems of the Week–the other Coleridge

Hartley Coleridge (1796-1849) was the oldest son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  He inherited much of his father's talent and brilliance but also some of his lack of discipline, which resulted in the forfeiture for intemperance of his Oriel fellowship.  He wrote biography for money and is often felt to have ...

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Chronicles Unbound, Live Today 3-5 PM

Chronicles Unbound, the official radio program of the best magazine on earth, is on the air and streaming live today, 3-5 PM.  Join Tom Fleming, Scott Richert, and host Paul Youngblood as they discuss the Obama administration's war against ...

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Something Rotten in the State

  With the number of Secret Service members and agents caught up in the partying-with-prostitutes scandal in Cartagena now at a dozen, and six already gone, how much wider and deeper does this go? No one can take pleasure in seeing Secret Service agents—whose deserved reputation is that they will “take a bullet” for the...

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Poems of the Week: Ballads

  I’ll return, later, to the question of conversational poetry and satire, but for a little relief–and a discussion that can lead eventually to Hopkins–let us turn to the ballad. Ballads are story telling poems or songs written in rhyming quatrains, alternating lines of 4 and 3 stresses.  Sometimes these shorter lines are combined into...

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Adolf Hitler, Our Contemporary

Hitler is 123 today, and he is alive and well. The Führer is going strong not because a vast neo-Nazi conspiracy is about to take over the Western world, kill the Jews, expel the Muslims and make April 20 the Day of Aryan Rebirth, but because he is an all-time favorite of the neoconservative-neoliberal duopoly...

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Leaving America

  On the Daily Mail, I posted a piece under the title “The Decline of the American Empire,”  which I borrowed from a movie by Denys Arcand, the great Quebecois filmmaker.  Since the the savage tone of piece appears to have precluded front-page treatment, I have revised it a bit for our website in the hope...

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Bibi’s Dilemma—and Barack’s

“Bibi” Netanyahu was disgusted. “My initial reaction is that Iran has gotten a freebie. It has got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation.” The Israeli prime minister was referring to Saturday’s meeting in Istanbul of the P5-plus-1—the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany—with representatives from Iran. Subject: Iran’s nuclear...

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Poems of the Week–Ben Jonson

Here is a somewhat conversational masterpiece by the great Ben.  It's a bit long but very vivid, funny, and, while self-serving, not hypocritical.  What a man he must have been!  Small wonder younger poets loved him, and not simply because he helped them.  His poem on Shakespeare, so often misunderstood ...

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Middle Eastern Wars Averted, For Now

  Most areas of Syria appeared calm on Tuesday, the first day of the UN-brokered peace plan. Opposition activists are predictably accusing the government of violations following a firefight in Homs and an incident on the Turkish border which left five people wounded, but on the whole the ceasefire is holding. Syria’s political and military...

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Johnny, They Hardly Knew Ye

  John Derbyshire, as probably everyone but me already knew, has been fired by National Review.  The firing was in response to a calmly written but injudiciously frank piece on Takimag on what to tell American children about race relations.   Rich Lowry, in slipping the knife into his colleague’s back, was surprisingly polite, confining himself to words...

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Poems of the Week–April 9: Conversational Verse

This is a big topic.  Conversational verse includes satires, dramatic dialogues, and homey little poems of the Robert Frost type.  To achieve a conversational tone, one has to lower the diction a bit and work somewhat against the metrical rules.  I'm going to stick mostly to iambic pentameter lines.  Let's ...

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Poems of the Week: Easter

  George Herbert, from The Temple Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back, Guilty of dust and sin. But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack From my first entrance in, Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning If I lack'd anything. "A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here"; Love said, "You shall be he."...

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Electoral Map Chaos

As of this writing, Texas is the only state in the union whose citizens have no earthly idea when, or if, they will hold a primary election for the two major parties this year.  The primaries depend on a reapportionment map of the state, which doesn’t exist. The U.S. Constitution clearly states that “Representatives ....

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Sarkozy the Demagogue

  President Nicolas Sarkozy announced March 30 that French police have arrested 19 persons suspected of belonging to violent Muslim networks. “These arrests are linked to the world of a certain sort of radical Islamism,” Sarkozy told Europe 1 Radio, and added that automatic weapons were found in the homes of some of those arrested in the...

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Lynching George Zimmerman

  “I only know what I read in the papers.”  Will Rogers was a master ironist, and when he made and repeated this assertion, he seemed to be saying several things.  As a friend of the powerful and famous, he was frequently asked serious political questions, which this modest reply deflected.  But also, by implication,...

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Poems of the Week: Lionel Johnson

  This week I am going to put up several poems by Lionel Johnson.  Johnson was a fine, not to say exquisite craftsman, a friend of Yeats and  the “Decadents.”  He is mainly known today as a religious poet, but he has a gift for evoking a scene. Johnson’s best known poem is: By the...

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Douse the Flames, Mr. President!

  Barack Obama’s statement that the death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy that cries out for a more thorough investigation was the right and necessary thing to say. But it fell far short of what was needed: a presidential call for a halt to the rhetoric that is stirring up racial rage and inflaming...

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Just a Regular French Youth

  As soon as I heard the news I suspected the score. “Far-Right extremists!” screamed the media pack, but my hunch was right: the murderer of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school near Toulouse, and of three French soldiers only days earlier, was not French. He was a French citizen of Algerian...

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The Lost-Cause War in Afghanistan

  In the wake of the lethal rampage by a U.S. sergeant who killed 16 Afghans in the early hours of March 11, the Taliban have put a halt to talks with the Americans and President Hamid Karzai, who has demanded that NATO troops pull out of the villages and return to their camps. As...

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Poems of the Week: Satire

  So far we have considered mostly lyric forms, particularly the sonnet, but verse is used for many purposes–narrative, didactic, and satiric.  Perhaps in this political season we should consider social and political satire, both in the broadest and in its stricter sense. Even used in the broadest sense, satire is not comic parody or...

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The Heart of Darkness

When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, over 58,000 Americans had lost their lives over the course of almost 20 years.  Whatever one may think of the justice or prudence of the U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia, only the most callous of souls regards that loss of life with complete ...

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Poems of the Week: March 13, 2012

  Let us now have a look at the so-called Italian or Petrarchan sonnet.  It was popularized by the great Aretine poet Petrarch, and early examples of the sonnet are often overt imitations of the master.  The problem for the English poet is that Italian is a language in which rhyme comes so easily as...

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Land of the Setting Sun

  Sunday was the first anniversary of the 9.0 earthquake off the east coast of Japan that produced the 45-foot-high tidal wave that hit Fukushima Prefecture. Twenty thousand perished. Hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes when a nuclear plant swept by the tsunami exploded, spewing radiation for miles. Only two of Japan’s 54...

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Dreams of My Daughters

President Barack Obama surprised even battle-hardened pro-life Americans with his official remarks on the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that has, since 1973, littered garbage dumps across America with the corpses of 50 million babies, 32 percent of them African-American.  In a White House press ...

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The Civil Rights Movement—March 2012

Vol. 36, No. 3 March 2012 perspective Revolting Parasites by Thomas Fleming views The Inner Logic of Civil Rights by Claude Polin Zora Neale Hurston’s White Mare by Jack Trotter news Crusader in the Crossfire by Timothy Stanley reviews A Warring Visionary by Tom Piatak [The Crusader: The Life and Tumultuous Times of Pat Buchanan, by ...

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Putin’s Victory

That a week is a long time in politics is confirmed by three significant events of the past seven days which will make life more difficult for the proponents of American “engagement” abroad. One was Bashar al-Assad’s victory in Homs, accompanied by the embarrassing discovery of French military “advisors” with ...

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Is the GOP Becoming a War Party?

  Denouncing Republican “bluster” about war with Iran, President Obama went on the offensive Tuesday: “Those who are … beating the drums of war should explain clearly to the American people what they think the costs and benefits would be.” The president had in mind such remarks as those Newt Gingrich delivered to the Israeli...

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Brideshead Revisited in 2012

  Brideshead, Reuters: The funeral of the Marquess of Marchmain was marred by the refusal of the parish priest, Father Mackay, to give Communion to two of the mourners, Lady Julia Mottram, the Marquess’ daughter, and her partner, the artist Charles Ryder. According to Ms. Mottram, the priest refused to give her Communion after he learned that...

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Poems of the Week: March 4, 2012

  Let us do some sonnets this week. We can start with what are called English sonnets, as opposed to Petrarchan. It is a simple form: three quatrains of 10-syllable “iambic” lines, alternately rhyming, and a final rhymed couplet. This is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 98, not one of the most famous, but an old favorite of mine:...

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Will Bibi Break Obama?

  The prime minister of Israel is angry with Barack Obama and is coming here to force a hardening of U.S. policy toward Iran. “Bibi” Netanyahu had his anger on display at a meeting in Israel with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham. McCain emerged saying he had never seen an Israeli prime minister “that...

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The Afghan Debacle

  The Obama administration’s strategy in Afghanistan is in tatters. This month’s violence, sparked off by the reported burning of Qurans at an American military base, has claimed at least thirty lives. Two of the dead were U.S. Army officers murdered at their post inside the Afghan Interior Ministry, supposedly one of the most secure...

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For What, All These Wars?

  “I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident. … I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies.” As President Obama sent this letter of apology to Hamid Karzai for the burning by U.S. troops of Qurans that were used to smuggle notes between Afghan prisoners, two U.S. soldiers...

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Poem of the Week: 26 February

  This is the last poem I shall post this week, again by Landor.  The form is seductively sweet but rhyming triplets are not easy.  The fourth line, of course, is only five syllables and ends with a weak or feminine ending.  The rhyming of two consecutive  each fourth lines has the effect of tying...

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Syria Gets Complicated

A three-member “Independent International Commission of Inquiry” appointed by the United Nations concluded on February 23 that “gross human rights violations” had been ordered by the Syrian authorities as state policy at “the highest levels of the armed forces and the government,” amounting to “crimes against humanity.” The 72-page ...

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Books Do Furnish a Room…

  A commenter on my Daily Mail Blog asked me a few questions about “modern” verse, specifically what I thought of Gerard Manley Hopkins and T.S. Eliot.  A political blog with a shelf-life of three days is no place to discuss “the permanent things” (to borrow a famous phrase from Eliot himself), and I have...

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The New Blacklist

  My days as a political analyst at MSNBC have come to an end. After 10 enjoyable years, I am departing, after an incessant clamor from the left that to permit me continued access to the microphones of MSNBC would be an outrage against decency, and dangerous. The calls for my firing began almost immediately...

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A Warring Visionary

The Crusader: The Life and Tumultuous Times of Pat Buchanan by Timothy Stanley New York: Thomas Dunne Books 464 pp., $27.99 British scholar Timothy Stanley  has produced the first significant biography of Patrick J. Buchanan, describing his life from his boyhood in Washington, D.C., up ...

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Obama’s Game

I was away in Europe when President Obama delivered his third State of the Union Address, hence a belated commentary. Obama’s carefully crafted speech sounded more like the opening shot in the reelection race than a set of serious policy proposals. His “blueprint for the future,” which supposedly will bring about ...

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Ron Paul’s Last Hurrah

At this point it is clear that Rep. Ron Paul is not going to be the presidential nominee of the Republican Party.  Yet it seems likely that he will outlast all his rivals but for Romney, and that he will have a substantial bloc of delegates at the convention.  Paul ...

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Obama’s Trampling on God’s Turf Now

Yes, Virginia, there is a religious war going on. It is for the soul of America. And traditional Christianity is besieged. In a January visit to the Vatican, American bishops were warned by Benedict XVI that

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Gaffes

  Mitt Romney now admits he “misspoke” in saying he was not concerned about the very poor.  Ron Paul, one of Romney’s few defenders, says that if we could look into Romney’s heart we would not find that he cares nothing for poor people.  This is among the more disturbing signs of Dr. Paul’s weirdness...

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Obama’s Strategic Doctrine: W Lite

  The Obama Administration’s “Defense Strategic Guidance” (DSG), which was unveiled on January 5 as part of the broader programmatic document, Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense, has been greeted with neoconservative howls of rage. The document “sends a clear message to America’s adversaries: Go for it,” was the view of the Washington Times editorialist,...

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The Evil Party Rides Again

  There are many reasons to criticize the the Republicans as the Stupid Party, and I have often done so.  But we need to remember that, in Sam Francis’ dichotomy, the other major party is the Evil Party.  And some of what the leader of the Evil Party is doing has no real precedent in American...

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Who Commissioned Us to Remake the World?

  U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, Obama’s man in Moscow, who just took up his post, has received a rude reception. And understandably so. In 1992, McFaul was the representative in Russia of the National Democratic Institute, a U.S. government-funded agency whose mission is to promote democracy abroad.   The NDI has been tied to color-coded...

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Iranian Crisis Escalates

  Speaking to reporters during a visit to Turkey on January 19, Iran’s foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi warned his country’s Arab neighbors against aligning themselves too closely with the United States in the ongoing crisis over Tehran’s nuclear program. Saudi Arabia was particularly vocal in its condemnation of Iran’s warning last month that it might close...

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Vulture Capitalism or Populist Demagoguery?

  “They’re vultures that are sitting out there on the tree limb, waiting for a company to get sick, and then they swoop in … eat the carcass … and … leave the skeleton.” So Rick Perry colorfully characterized the private equity firm Bain Capital, once run by Mitt Romney. How did Bain prosper? Says...